Beginning in the early 1970's, the then Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory initiated a program to develop computer-based atmospheric radiative transfer algorithms. The first attempts were translations of graphical procedures described in a 1970 report on The Optical Properties of the Atmosphere, based on empirical transmission functions and effective absorption coefficients derived primarily from controlled laboratory transmittance measurements. The fact that spectrally-averaged atmospheric transmittance (T) does not obey the Beer-Lambert Law (T equals exp(-(sigma) (DOT)(eta) ), where (sigma) is a species absorption cross section, independent of (eta) , the species column amount along the path) at any but the finest spectral resolution was already well known. Band models to describe this gross behavior were developed in the 1950's and 60's. Thus began LOWTRAN, the Low Resolution Transmittance Code, first released in 1972. This limited initial effort has how progressed to a set of codes and related algorithms (including line-of-sight spectral geometry, direct and scattered radiance and irradiance, non-local thermodynamic equilibrium, etc.) that contain thousands of coding lines, hundreds of subroutines, and improved accuracy, efficiency, and, ultimately, accessibility. This review will include LOWTRAN, HITRAN (atlas of high-resolution molecular spectroscopic data), FASCODE (Fast Atmospheric Signature Code), and MODTRAN (Moderate Resolution Transmittance Code), their permutations, validations, and applications, particularly as related to passive remote sensing and energy deposition.