Technology The World Depends on 60-Year-Old Code No One Knows Anymore

Gandalf_The_Grey

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An alarmingly large portion of the world's business and finance systems run on COBOL, and only a small community of programmers know it. IBM thinks Watson can help, but it's not guaranteed.

Every day, 3 trillion dollars worth of transactions are handled by a 64-year-old programming language that hardly anybody knows anymore.

It's called COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language), and despite the fact that most schools and universities stopped teaching it decades ago, it remains one of the top mainframe programming languages used today, especially in industries like banking, automotive, insurance, government, healthcare, and finance. According to the International Journal of Advanced Research in Science, Communication and Technology (IJARSCT), 43 percent of all banking systems are still using COBOL, which handles those $3 trillion daily transactions, including 95 percent of all ATM activity in the US, and 80 percent of all in-person credit card transactions.

The problem is that very few people are interested in learning COBOL these days. Coding it is cumbersome, it reads like an English lesson (too much typing), the coding format is meticulous and inflexible, and it takes far longer to compile than its competitors. And since nobody's learning it anymore, programmers who can work with and maintain all that code are a increasingly hard to find. Many of these "COBOL cowboys" are aging out of the workforce, and replacements are in short supply.
 

Andy Ful

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simmerskool

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