It’s COBOL All the Way Down

Glenn Fleishman:

Sixty years later, you’d expect COBOL to be the stuff of looping narrative videos at computer-history museums (in fact, there’s part of a floor devoted to mainframes at Seattle’s Living Computers museum, where you can see the old giants in action); maybe you’d hear the name COBOL used in an introductory lecture on computer science to explain how far we’ve come, and chuckle.

Instead, COBOL remains widely and actively used across the financial system, with no good plan for transitioning to modern codebases, nor for keeping a viable coder workforce active. That’s a problem, because while some schools still teach COBOL and many outsourcing firms train employees in it to meet their employers’ needs, it’s not enough. Someone has to maintain an estimated hundreds of billions of lines of COBOL that remain in use, with billions more being written each year for maintenance and new features.