/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Cobol Still in Use

I started coding well after COBOL had declined, but key parts of the company were still being run by COBOL code.  It still did many of the logical things required, and because it was compiled, it was very fast for the computers of the day.    If you knew coding you could learn it a few days.   After that I was involved with the Y2K event, and we had to wade through huge amounts of COBOL and other code, to determine if there was code that would fail based on date encoding. 

We only found only a few examples of suspect date coding, but found quite a few more examples where there were possible problems not related to Y2K.   So it helped after all, and the remaining code was fixed, recompiled and allowed to carry on.    I do wonder how much different it would have been if all the COBOL code had been done in Python?  Though lots of shared code design might have helped.  The article below also mentions my colleague Grace Hopper, at the Pentagon who I have talked about here before

COBOL Turns 60: Why It Will Outlive Us All   By ZDNet

I cut my programming teeth on IBM 360 Assembler. This shouldn't be anyone's first language. In computing's early years, the only languages were machine and assembler. In those days, computing science really was "science." Clearly, there needed to be an easier language for programming those hulking early mainframes. That language, named in September 1959, became Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL).

The credit for coming up with the basic idea goes not to Grace Hopper, although she contributed to the language and promoted it, but to Mary Hawes. She was a Burroughs Corporation programmer who saw a need for a computer language. In March 1959, Hawes proposed that a new computer language be created. It would have an English-like vocabulary that could be used across different computers to perform basic business tasks.

Hawes talked Hopper and others into creating a vendor-neutral interoperable computer language. Hopper suggested they approach the Department of Defense (DoD) for funding and as a potential customer for the unnamed language. 

Business IT experts agreed, and in May 1959, 41 computer users and manufacturers met at the Pentagon. There, they formed the Short Range Committee of the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL).

Drawing on earlier business computer languages such as Remington Rand UNIVAC's FLOW-MATIC, which was largely the work of Grace Hopper, and IBM's Commercial Translator, the committee established that COBOL-written programs should resemble ordinary English. ...

No comments: