"The right way to read a FORTRAN book," the author of this one tells us now that we've read his almost to its last page, "is by a series of skimming passes. Each time through you pick up a bit more of the nitty-gritty detail. When you pick up an IBM manual, for instance, first flip through it looking for the jokes. There aren't any, so go back and flip through again, getting familiar with the overall idea. Then flip through from back to front, side to side, and top to bottom. If there's a centerfold, you're in the wrong publication! Each time through, you'll be looking for specific details connected with whatever you are doing at the time on the computer. After a while, the whole works will have seeped through your skin by osmosis." This introduction to FORTRAN works like that, squared. Or unsquared. Anyway, it's unlike any technical manual or textbook you've ever seen. You may think you're chuckling knowingly at some felicitous irreverence the author has craftily inserted, or gravely pondering a remark by one of his cartoon animals, or groaning over an especially outrageous pun. You may even think you're just coloring the giraffe yellow. But you're really learning FORTRANâhow to use it, how to keep it from using youâon the sly. High school kids can deal with it. The book will also appeal to, like, college sophomores, since it revels in a brand of collegiate humor that is just not going to go away, that is going to lastâalasâthrough generations of computers. And sophomores, nowadays, are finding that FORTRAN is more often a prerequisite or academic requirement than is, oh, French, just to mention another popular modern language.
The book teaches its readers all they need to know to get a start at programming real computers about such things as algorithms, the arithmetic "if," array storage, artichokes, assignment statements, branches, bugs (including those in programs), "call" statements, complex constants, conditional branches, con