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ALGOL was developed jointly by a committee of European and American computer scientists in a meeting in 1958 at ETH Zurich. It specified three different syntaxes: a reference syntax, a publication syntax, and an implementation syntax. The different syntaxes permitted it to use different keyword names and conventions for decimal points (commas vs. periods) for different languages.

ALGOL was used mostly by research computer scientists in the United States and in Europe. Its use in commercial applications was hindered by the absence of standard input/output facilities in its description and the lack of interest in the language by large computer vendors. ALGOL 60 did however become the standard for the publication of algorithms and had a profound effect on future language development.

John Backus developed the Backus normal form method of describing programming languages specifically for ALGOL 58. It was revised and expanded by Peter Naur for ALGOL 60, and at the suggestion by Donald Knuth renamed to Backus-Naur form.[1]

Peter Naur: "As editor of the ALGOL Bulletin I was drawn into the international discussions of the language, and was selected to be member of the European language design group in November 1959. In this capacity I was the editor of the ALGOL 60 report, produced as the result of the ALGOL 60 meeting in Paris in January 1960."

  1. Knuth, Donald E. (1964) Backus Normal Form vs. Backus Naur Form. Communications of the ACM 7(12):735-736
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"Legacy" Trunk
Preceded by
IAL
ALGOL Followed by
Simula
ANSI Common Lisp Branch
Preceded by
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ALGOL Followed by
Common Lisp

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