TLDR: Autocode is a family of programming languages developed in the 1950s and 1960s for early digital computers. It was designed to simplify coding and make it easier for people to write programs for these computers.
Autocode was created for different computers at the Universities of Manchester, Cambridge, and London. It was a generic term, and the different versions of Autocode were not necessarily closely related. However, they were generally similar in structure and purpose.
The first Autocode, called Glennie's Autocode, was developed by Alick Glennie in 1952 for the Mark 1 computer at the University of Manchester. It was considered the first compiled programming language and aimed to make programming the Mark 1 machines easier. While it was clearer than the machine code, it was still very machine-dependent.
The second Autocode, called Mark 1 Autocode, was developed by R. A. Brooker in 1955 for the Mark 1 computer. It was nearly machine-independent and had floating-point arithmetic. However, it had limitations such as allowing only one operation per line and no way to define user subroutines.
Other Autocodes were developed for different computers, such as the Ferranti Mercury and EDSAC 2. These Autocodes had their own unique features and limitations.
Overall, Autocode played a significant role in the early development of programming languages. It aimed to simplify coding and make it more accessible to programmers. While it had its limitations, it paved the way for future programming languages like COBOL, Fortran, and BASIC.