John Backus was born in 1924 in Pennsylvania where he attended high school. He graduated from the Hill School in Pottstown. Soon, he began studying at the University of Virginia where he made chemistry his major and his focus.
John Backus was eager to admit that he didn't take his education as seriously as he should have. He wasn't driven by his own desires to succeed in school and one year after he entered the University of Virginia, he found he wasn't able to continue due to his lack of commitment and effort. So, he joined the army.
While in the army, he began to study medicine but even though he had a knack for it, he didn't stick with it and soon, Backus was back to square one without any career goals in mind. He moved into a New York apartment and decided to enter into a technical school program where a teacher there took an interest in him. Soon, he knew what he wanted to do.
Backus entered Columbia University and began studying mathematics. He graduated from Columbia in 1949. Backus began working for IBM Computer Center in 1950. His job as a programmer was one that interested him.
John Backus may not have known which way his life course would take him but what he did discover once he found the right career was an invention that would allow him to leave his mark on history. Backus invented the FORTRAN program which is considered the highest language level used in computers. It would become well known and widely used after 1957.
Two other developments are to John Backus's credit. The BNF stands for the Backus Naur Form and it is a standard notation describing high level programming language and the syntax associated with it. He also found the FP which stands for the functional programming language.
John Backus was a computer science genius. He paved the way for many others to bring forward their ideas and inventions in computer science and technology. He died in 2007.