In case you're not familiar with it, ATLAS runs a bunch of small programs to figure out what approach is fastest on your specific machine, trying different instructions and memory access patterns for different array/matrix sizes. Cool stuff.
But it's still a fine-grained parallelism so numpy can match plain Fortran performance in special cases (and not the other way around).
Cobol is a DSL for record-oriented batch processing, which is extremely useful for some business tasks and not very useful for most of the rest of the programming world. RPG (Report Program Generator) is, if anything, even more restricted than Cobol, but it never "escaped" to the extent Cobol did so it never got the same kind of derision heaped upon it.
C is most naturally a DSL for OSes and what used to be called "systems programming": Software that has to run at machine speed, and can sacrifice usability and debuggability for pure speed. It was never a good choice for most of what got written in it, but, again, C compilers were available when other development tools were not, and, on a slow enough computer, all programming becomes "systems programming".
Systems programming languages exist since at least 1961, with ESPOL being one of the first ones. IBM for example did their RISC research with PL/8.
As for pure speed, that is the result of 40 years research in taking advantage of UB.
"Oh, it was quite a while ago. I kind of stopped when C came out. That was a big blow. We were making so much good progress on optimizations and transformations. We were getting rid of just one nice problem after another. When C came out, at one of the SIGPLAN compiler conferences, there was a debate between Steve Johnson from Bell Labs, who was supporting C, and one of our people, Bill Harrison, who was working on a project that I had at that time supporting automatic optimization...The nubbin of the debate was Steve's defense of not having to build optimizers anymore because the programmer would take care of it. That it was really a programmer's issue....
Seibel: Do you think C is a reasonable language if they had restricted its use to operating-system kernels?
Allen: Oh, yeah. That would have been fine. And, in fact, you need to have something like that, something where experts can really fine-tune without big bottlenecks because those are key problems to solve. By 1960, we had a long list of amazing languages: Lisp, APL, Fortran, COBOL, Algol 60. These are higher-level than C. We have seriously regressed, since C developed. C has destroyed our ability to advance the state of the art in automatic optimization, automatic parallelization, automatic mapping of a high-level language to the machine. This is one of the reasons compilers are ... basically not taught much anymore in the colleges and universities."
Fran Allen interview, Excerpted from: Peter Seibel. Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
It was a pre-processor for Fortran 66 written by Brian Kernighan
Often the issue is the lack of IDE,code quality tools,libraries,support for string encoding schemes, linters and co, everything that is taken for granted in modern languages with a broader appeal.
Actually, newer programmers are rediscovering these languages because they actually scale very well as an alternative to C++.
Ada, there are quite a few nice IDEs, most Eclipse based, but of course commercial. The free one from AdaCore, GPS, is kind of OKish.
For Fortran, most commercial compilers have Visual Studio plugins on Windows, and Eclipse ones on UNIX systems.
* LAPACK (BLAS is there too) http://www.netlib.org/lapack/explore-html/
* QUADPACK (quadrature integration) http://www.netlib.org/quadpack/
* MINPACK (nonlinear solvers) http://netlib.org/minpack/index.html
* ODEPACK (ordinary differential equations) http://netlib.org/odepack/index.html
Most of the textbooks on numerical methods are not very approachable, but Carl Meyer's Matrix Analysis and Applied Linear Algebra text is a good start, as are Gilbert Strang's books.
In this case someone took the old fortran code and modernized it a bit, yet again in fortran:
Do you have any examples?
The newer Fortran's have much better character/text handling I agree the FORMAT statements could be tricky
Fortran 77 is just a nightmare, like you said. Not many people recommend C++ styles from the 80s either.