The world depends on 60-year-old code no one knows anymore

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.

This puts us in a tricky predicament. We need to maintain and modernize the code that underpins so much of the business and finance worlds, but we don’t have enough skilled workers we need to carry out those updates.

This is precisely the kind of problem that IBM thinks it can fix with AI.

↫ JD Sartain for PCMag

It seems like learning and getting good at COBOL is a surefire way to ensure job security. I wonder if there’s a way to make modern applications or software in COBOL? I mean, there are COBOL compilers for modern platforms, of course, but are there any bindings (I think that’s the correct term?) for modern GUI toolkits like GTK, Qt, and so on?

The headline’s probably a bit hyperbolic, but the core of the issue stands.


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