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Fortran is a programming language originally developed in the early 1950s as an alternative to writing computer programs using assembly language. It is believed to be the first high-level language developed, and was intended both to make writing of programs easier, and potentially allow source code of them to be portable among different machines.

Niklaus Wirth, who invented Pascal, wrote the first Pascal compiler using Fortran, because he was working on a Control Data Corporation (CDC) computer, and the dominant language for writing programs on CDC computers was Fortran. Many of the original constructs for Pascal come from either Fortran or the CDC implementation of Fortran. Once he had written the initial compiler, he was able to then rewrite the compiler in Pascal and use it to compile itself in the standard practice called bootstrapping.

The use of the Program statement is from CDC's implementation of Fortran. The use of the size specifiers (such as

Write (Value:5);


Writeln (Total:5:2);

in the Write and Writeln standard functions comes from the I and F specifiers in the Fortran FORMAT statement, respectively.