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I'm trying to figure out year when the term "program" was firstly used is the meaning ‘series of coded instructions which directs a computer in carrying out a specific task’.

Additionally I need book/paper/essay where I can read this definition.

Let me explain. For example here https://www.etymonline.com/word/program said that it happed in 1945, but without any proofs or document names.

On the other hand in 1947 document "Planning and Coding Problems for an Electronic Computing Instrument, Part 1" by H. Goldstine and J. von Neumann. They stated:

We call the coded sequence of a problem a routine

So not a program, but a routine.

Moreover in 1949 at the Cambridge conference, David Wheeler (EDSAC designer) wrote:

A PROGRAMME is a flowchart showing the operations (in block form) corresponding to the action of the calculator during the solution of the problem.

A ROUTINE is the programme written in the detailed code of a particular machine.

Again it is routine not a program.

So I can not find any proofs from 1945, 1947, and 1949 that term program means ‘series of coded instructions which directs a computer in carrying out a specific task’

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  • 1
    Do you want the year the usage first appeared, or the year it first appeared in print? Given your quote from 1949 includes both the terms programme and routine, and given the previous non-computing sense of program, it seems likely the two terms could have been used interchangeably (at least informally) at that time or soon after.
    – nnnnnn
    Jul 6 at 7:57
  • I need the year it first appeared in print. In 1949 term "programme" had absolutely different meaning than it has now.
    – No Name QA
    Jul 6 at 8:01
  • It wasn't a radically different meaning, in your quote essentially the programme documents the routine. But anyway, sorry, can't help you with the first explicit print reference. There are some in the late 50s and early 60s, not sure about before that.
    – nnnnnn
    Jul 6 at 8:04
  • I suspect that the term "programme of instructions" was used in the thirties by Alan Turing in his various published papers setting out the concept of the "Turing machine" which was a principle and not a physical machine. My understanding is that Tommy Flowers designed Colossus as an implementation of a Turing machine having read Turing's theoretical work. I'd try looking at publications from the pre-war period.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 6 at 8:28
  • Turing's 1936 paper "On Computable Numbers" uses the word "configuration" to describe the rules governing behavior. Not sure of any other early papers that might use "program": Shannon (1948) doesn't really discuss programming and doesn't use the word.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 6 at 8:55
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Etymonline's citation of 1945 is based on an OED entry starting at 9. b.:

9. b. Now usually in form program. A series of coded instructions and definitions which when fed into a computer automatically directs its operation in performing a particular task. Also in extended use: something conceived of as encoding and determining a process, esp. genetically.
Cf. quots. 1942, 1945 at sense 9a, in which one can see the beginnings of this sense.
1947    Math. Tables & Other Aids Computation 2 358 An important limitation upon programming is that the machine must adhere to a prescribed linear course of operation. It cannot at any point choose between two subsequent programs on the basis of results already obtained.

9. b. points to examples in 9. a.:

9. a. A sequence of operations that a machine can be set to perform automatically.
1942    J. W. MAUCHLY Use High Speed Vacuum Tube Devices for Calculating (Moore School of Electr. Engin., Univ. Pennsylvania) in B. Randell Origins Digital Computers (1973) 330 Mechanical devices..see to it that the numerical result from an operation in one machine is properly transferred to some other machine, which is selected by a suitable program device;..this program device is capable of arranging a cycle of different transfers and operations in each cycle.
1945    J. P. ECKERT et al. Descr. ENIAC (PB 86242) (Moore School of Electr. Engin., Univ. of Pennsylvania) 1 The intended use of the eniac is to compute large families of solutions all based on the same program of operations.

I think it would be safe to cite John Presper Eckert's 1945 description.

Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required)

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