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Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 2:48 PM


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It's not obsolete if it still does the job it was designed to do. I've written my share of FORTRAN, RPG, COBOL and who knows what else over the years. No idea if any of it is still running somewhere, but if so, great! There are plenty of tasks that need attention, without inventing silly make-work like replacing fully functional existing code.

Things are only obsolete if they can no longer perform their assigned function. COBOL does not fit that definition by any stretch of the imagination.

There are shops that develop new applications in COBOL today, and do an enormous amount of useful work. Just because it doesn't fit someone's idea of 'the latest and greatest' doesn't mean it's a bad idea to use it.
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Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 3:19 PM
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pdanes (2/22/2013)[ There are plenty of tasks that need attention, without inventing silly make-work like replacing fully functional existing code.


Absolutely agree! If it works, requires no maintenance, and you are not moving platforms, leave it alone. We have some COBOL programs that have been running daily for over 12 years with no maintenance done to them. That's not common, but it does exist.

Back in the day, I wrote my share of COBOL on mainframes and AS/400. AS/400 even had (has?) embedded SQL that you can get some benefit of set based operations, but many people would still write it as a cursor so the procedural flow was still the same.
Post #1423277
Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 3:36 PM
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Eric M Russell (2/22/2013)
Michael Valentine Jones (2/22/2013)
Eric M Russell (2/22/2013)
Michael Valentine Jones (2/22/2013)
I don’t see how this list could be complete without mentioning COBOL.

From the 1960s until about 1990 it was the language of choice for business programming with implementations on every major OS.

There are tremendous number of applications written in COBOL still running.

It might not be flashy, sexy, object-oriented, etc. but it continues to be a workhorse.


COBOL can use indexed sequential files, but it still only does row by row cursor style batch processing. I guess it's a work horse on a big mainframe. When I attended university back in late 80's and early 90's, the database related courses were centered around COBOL. However, since then I've never been exposed to COBOL professionally except as part of a Y2K conversion where I had to port an AS400 based inventory system to SQL Server, copying tables and re-writing COBOL procedures as T-SQL. So I know how to read COBOL, but fortunately never had to develop with it.


COBOL can use SQL calls to various RDMS, depending on the environment, COBOL version, RDMS API, etc.

I am not sure if I know of any procedural language that does anything except row by row processing. Are there any set based languages besides SQL?

That's right, RDMS and SQL made ISAM and COBOL obsolete 20 years ago.


SQL did not make COBOL obsolete, since SQL is not a front-end tool and not really a replacement for COBOL.

I wrote plenty of COBOL programs that accessed SQL RDMS databases (DEC RDB, not SQL Server) 25 years ago.



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Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 4:45 PM
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LOL! Does anyone remember APL, "A Programming Language"? That's what hooked me in 1975, because it was an interactive terminal (keyboard, no CRT) back when all the other computer programming classes at my university were key-punched cards with overnight processing. I used it to write some interactive basic statistics tutorials for the statistics class I had just taken (probability and permutations versus combinations).
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Posted Saturday, February 23, 2013 7:27 AM


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I read the previous comments, and except for a very few, posted by us "oldtimers" which bought back memories of my first programming tasks in 1960. (Hard to believe that was some 53 years ago) Using the now ancient IBM 1401 and a language known as "AUTOCODER". Autocoder was basically an assembly language. We could not utilize variables, but had to store data in specific memory locations, and to a programmer a ream of paper listing memory locations and what value was in that location was an indispensable tool. The IBM 1401 at that time was, I think rightfully so, designed to handle business data, such as item warehouse location, number of units available, unit price, so that it could be used to reduce quantity in inventory, recall the price per item so as to generate a invoice for the customer. My first task was to attempt to solve engineering problems using a business orientated language. Enough of that, it was to me fascinating, since the only way I did have to solve an engineering problem was a mechanical calculator, input the starting value, pull the hand crank to store the value, enter the operation by depressing the proper key to (add, or subtract, or divide) then input the next value and pull the hand crank.... hand record the result of the calculation, and then continue, hours of endless work to solve the simplest of engineering calculations. And so I started with autocoder, and at the height of my frustrations using autocode, IBM announced a new computer language FORTRAN. A language designed for engineering calculations and loadable on a 1401 computer. Happy days ... oh those so happy days (hindsight). But the result was a strong desire to learn more about programming and how to use it as an engineering tool. Thank goodness that desire to learn remains with me until this day, and I look upon things such as relational databases as a wonderful tool.

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

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Posted Saturday, February 23, 2013 5:07 PM


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I got hooked on computers when I took my first programming class in college - a required course as part of the EE stuff I was doing at the time. My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80, where I wrote BASIC programs (to tape!). But the first piece of true software that really evolved things (for me) was when I got my Apple //c and was using AppleWorks.

Ahh, how things have changed since then.


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Posted Sunday, February 24, 2013 8:29 PM


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Posted Monday, February 25, 2013 6:38 AM
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What inspired me was family history. I began tracing my family genealogy back in the early 80's and soon had reams of paper filled with data. Knew I couldn't grow to much without being overwhelmed with 3-ring binders, so decided to build a program to house the data. As the genealogy branched and grew, so did the sophistication of my early databases. By the early 90's, I knew more about databases (and my family!) than any else I knew, so changed careers and became a database programmer. Today, everything is on SQL Servers and served up on the web. As databases go, the application is small, but as family genealogies go it's very, very large (over 13,000 entries) and still growing. What started with a 5-volume series of books with 600 pages of genealogies today would span over 5000 pages and could not realistically be published again. Thank goodness for the web!
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Posted Monday, February 25, 2013 10:00 AM
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bitbucket-25253 (2/23/2013)
I read the previous comments, and except for a very few, posted by us "oldtimers" which bought back memories of my first programming tasks in 1960. (Hard to believe that was some 53 years ago) Using the now ancient IBM 1401 and a language known as "AUTOCODER".


Ron,

The real first code I wrote after absolute was in SPS on a 1620 where we did have variables but had to manage all the registers and locations while dealing with strings. I was familiar with 1401 Autocoder but did not write production code in it. In the 80's I worked with a fellow who wrote the math tables for the Autocoder processor. The stories he told were amazing. One thing I remember was the cost in code it took both in SPS and in Autocoder to write something to disk. There was no SQL and in same cases no index to the data, and before ISAM using the Direct Access Method was costly but at the time a miracle that it could be done.

Thank you for bringing up the 1401. The memories of people and environments are wonderful.



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Posted Monday, February 25, 2013 10:16 AM


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Carla Wilson-484785 (2/22/2013)
LOL! Does anyone remember APL, "A Programming Language"? That's what hooked me in 1975, because it was an interactive terminal (keyboard, no CRT) back when all the other computer programming classes at my university were key-punched cards with overnight processing. I used it to write some interactive basic statistics tutorials for the statistics class I had just taken (probability and permutations versus combinations).


Was this the "right to left" execution of instructions for math/stats? I took a language like that in college. Hated it, but then again, I never like matrix math and lots of that was involved in our course.







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