NJ needs COBOL programmers...

allen-1

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This is pretty funny/sad. I graduated from college in 1981. While I was there I took COBOL I and COBOL II. Some of the college's administrative systems were written in COBOL, and I helped maintain/enhance them. Even then, I was being told that COBOL was obsolete - but I knew that large companies all over the world had systems written in it - and there's very little ROI in rewriting existing systems. It's expensive and hard to justify.

Since then, I've worked at a couple jobs where I've had to dig out my notes on JCL and COBOL to keep a "legacy" system running - and I've found that few of my peers/co-workers know anything at all about it. Most know just enough to keep the daily show running - as long as there aren't any "weird" issues.

This isn't a shock - but it's a chance to earn some potentially serious money -


Footnote - COBOL is an acronym for COmmon Business Oriented Language.
 

DarkNet

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Started programming in COBOL over fifty years ago.Haven't had a need in the last thirty years.
 

CrackPot

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COBOL was the only language you could use at the insurance company I worked at in the early 80s to access the magnetic tapes that stored lots of data I needed. I only learned enough to spool it off the tapes and into a format I could then use to parse in the thoroughly modern language of APL.

Neither the ability to use COBOL or APL did me much good past that summer job at Aetna.

That anyone has any system still running that requires COBOL is criminal. I can't begin to imaging how it survived Y2K. The hardware it is running on likely has not been supported in 40 years either which means they have been paying maintenance or other costs that would have paid to upgrade the system 10 times over.

But I am sure NJ had better places to spend their money
 

67ray

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"when he said at a press conference that the State needed volunteers who with “Cobalt” computer skills" . . .

Hrmmm volunteers maybe they are not looking to spend any money?
 

EvilDragon

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COBOL was the only language you could use at the insurance company I worked at in the early 80s to access the magnetic tapes that stored lots of data I needed. I only learned enough to spool it off the tapes and into a format I could then use to parse in the thoroughly modern language of APL.

Neither the ability to use COBOL or APL did me much good past that summer job at Aetna.

That anyone has any system still running that requires COBOL is criminal. I can't begin to imaging how it survived Y2K. The hardware it is running on likely has not been supported in 40 years either which means they have been paying maintenance or other costs that would have paid to upgrade the system 10 times over.

But I am sure NJ had better places to spend their money
You're completely off-base. IBM makes modernized mainframes and sponsors a master's in mainframe programming at U of Michigan. COBOL is alive and well.
 
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What is COBOL used for these days?
Last COBOL system I played with was a ticketing system for a bonded warehouse. The client thought for years the only way to get the printers to make shipping manifests was to use this old AF software. Their programmer had been holding them hostage, a real shitbag who told me that the only language worth using is COBOL. He convinced client there was no way to take a database of pallet locations and shipping destinations and put it in a modern system. Only reason the client did it was they had to, old guy had Parkinson's, they couldn't find a COBOL guy and I knew just enough to exfiltrate their data. Whole project took about 1000 hours to convert to something that runs in a web browser. Most of the work was reverse engineering the math in the old reports to make new ones. I even got the dot matrix printers to work and make reports that look like the old manifests.

I know it was a six figure job, but who kicks a can THAT far down the road?
 

Dennis in MA

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Damn. The trust company I worked for back in the late 80's/early90's spent 3-4 years converting all of their systems away from things like COBOL. They were early-adopters of SQL. And foresaw the Y2K problem a decade early and fixed it.

Damn. COBOL???? I'm too young to know it. Just by a hair.
 

terraformer

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It's been like this for 20 years. COBOL programmers were being sought after during the dot com bust era. It will remain like this for some time as the systems written in COBOL are large and complicated in size.
 

terraformer

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COBOL was the only language you could use at the insurance company I worked at in the early 80s to access the magnetic tapes that stored lots of data I needed. I only learned enough to spool it off the tapes and into a format I could then use to parse in the thoroughly modern language of APL.

Neither the ability to use COBOL or APL did me much good past that summer job at Aetna.

That anyone has any system still running that requires COBOL is criminal. I can't begin to imaging how it survived Y2K. The hardware it is running on likely has not been supported in 40 years either which means they have been paying maintenance or other costs that would have paid to upgrade the system 10 times over.

But I am sure NJ had better places to spend their money
IBM still sells mainframes. They never stopped. All modern designs.
 

EMTDAD

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LOL. I also took a class in COBOL as I minored in Math-Computer Option at ULowell back in the 80s. It's about 1 step up from BASIC as I recall. As a scientist, we were taught Fortran back in the day. A lot of it was replaced with C++ over the years, but there's still a lot of Fortran out there. There was a time in my early career where off the shelf software products couldn't handle what we needed. Excel had limits, and scientist weren't taught the primitive database software. So we wrote Fortran programs to process the data we needed.
 

SpaceCritter

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Damn. The trust company I worked for back in the late 80's/early90's spent 3-4 years converting all of their systems away from things like COBOL. They were early-adopters of SQL. And foresaw the Y2K problem a decade early and fixed it.

Damn. COBOL???? I'm too young to know it. Just by a hair.
Likewise.

Then again, I just missed by a few years the requirement that code for the Computer OrgAsm class be submitted on punchcards. Honestly, everyone knew it was just academic hazing by the time they finally dropped it: "Hey, WE had to do it, so YOU have to do it, too!" (FWIW, though, my OrgAsm class was done in VAX MACRO!)
 
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so a 60 year old software that should have been updated in the 80's. Never updated.....Christie was their governor from 2010 through 2018. So this new guy kind of got screwed by inheriting this problem. You can blame Christie and those who came before him back to the 80's.
 

allen-1

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What, no love for Fortran IV with Watfiv?
I wrote a LOT of code in FTN. I remember when F77 came out. FTN IV executed much faster on the machines I was working on, and had much better access to the system libraries. It gave me a good foundation for system programming.

FTN, SPL, PL1G - haven't written anything in those languages for probably 30 years now.
 

Dennis in MA

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Likewise.

Then again, I just missed by a few years the requirement that code for the Computer OrgAsm class be submitted on punchcards. Honestly, everyone knew it was just academic hazing by the time they finally dropped it: "Hey, WE had to do it, so YOU have to do it, too!" (FWIW, though, my OrgAsm class was done in VAX MACRO!)
OK, hold on. I'm not THAT old. And shockingly, I was never into programming. It was just part of the job being young and working at a financial firm. Today, no one writes their own code for a shop that "small." (At it's height it was 175 employees and when I left 30 years ago they were at a couple-billion in mgmt.) They use some system today - again a sweeping change that happened in the late 90's/early 00's. Because the MIS dept saw the writing on the wall for a custom system versus an outside vendor. I think they eventually went with State Street.
 

Spanz

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OK, hold on. I'm not THAT old. And shockingly, I was never into programming. It was just part of the job being young and working at a financial firm. Today, no one writes their own code for a shop that "small." (At it's height it was 175 employees and when I left 30 years ago they were at a couple-billion in mgmt.) They use some system today - again a sweeping change that happened in the late 90's/early 00's. Because the MIS dept saw the writing on the wall for a custom system versus an outside vendor. I think they eventually went with State Street.
I worked with a chicago trading company that used FPGA chips with firmware, because the could shave a few microseconds off of their trading times thst way.
 

Chris

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COBOL and Fortran were both taught when I was in college. We also worked in Pascal, Basic, and LISP. However, just about every practical course was done in C or C++. Have used Basic doing Excel programing and the old classic ASP web development, but just about everything professionally has been some derivative of Kernighan and Ritchie. (heh, I still have my autographed first edition of their book that I got in 1979)

Heck, anyone else remember early web development using the old ASAPI dlls and writing code that literally wrote the HTML code to send?

For someone that really wants steady work and likes complex logic problems, COBOL isn't a bad niche to look into. There are a lot of critical systems out there that still run on it. I know one semi-retired engineer that does updates for Classic ASP websites. Old tech, if you can find the people using it, can be a good place to work if you don't mind the tedium and never getting into new things.
 

allen-1

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COBOL and Fortran were both taught when I was in college. We also worked in Pascal, Basic, and LISP. However, just about every practical course was done in C or C++. Have used Basic doing Excel programing and the old classic ASP web development, but just about everything professionally has been some derivative of Kernighan and Ritchie. (heh, I still have my autographed first edition of their book that I got in 1979)

Heck, anyone else remember early web development using the old ASAPI dlls and writing code that literally wrote the HTML code to send?

For someone that really wants steady work and likes complex logic problems, COBOL isn't a bad niche to look into. There are a lot of critical systems out there that still run on it. I know one semi-retired engineer that does updates for Classic ASP websites. Old tech, if you can find the people using it, can be a good place to work if you don't mind the tedium and never getting into new things.
I have two friends living in South Carolina. They retired a couple years ago, sold their house in NJ and moved to their (previously) "summer house" in SC. They do the occasional consulting work for banks and insurance firms. COBOL and JCL. They live very well.
 

DarkNet

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When I started getting paid for programming, it was COBOL and JCL on a mainframe using punched cards. Knew a buch of other languages, but getting paid for COBOL. Eventually we had dial up paper terminals. Don't remember, it's been a while, but I think they were 300 baud (might have been 110). PC's weren't even a thought in anybody's mind yet. First PC had two 5 1/4 floppy drives.
 

Mountain

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I still have my Fortran books! And punch cards!!!
[rofl] LOL, punch cards!

In HS we had a Hoo-lette Packuhd (programming teacher's accent, go heavy on the 'lette') with a bubble card reader. #2 pencil hell. It was prone to mis-reads, especially ones that would send the HP into an endless loop. Of course some of us may or may not have fed it endless loops on purpose. We also had Trash-80's.
 

Yazz

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[rofl] LOL, punch cards!

In HS we had a Hoo-lette Packuhd (programming teacher's accent, go heavy on the 'lette') with a bubble card reader. #2 pencil hell. It was prone to mis-reads, especially ones that would send the HP into an endless loop. Of course some of us may or may not have fed it endless loops on purpose. We also had Trash-80's.
I still have a HP-41cv calculator.
 
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