After all these years..... who still remembers it?

On top of ventilators, [face masks] and [health care workers] you can now add COBOL programmers to the list of what several states urgently need as they battle the [coronavirus pandemic.]

COBOL is still heavily used in the mainframe world (more info), and according to Wikipedia, is now object-oriented. Never used it myself, but knew some COBOL programmers back in the day.

On another matter, I’m curious as to why you enclosed some items in square brackets? Are they supposed to be formatting instructions that this system doesn’t support?

Years ago I did some COBOL work
Right around the Y2K time - when I also worked in C and Adabas/Natural and a few others

You could ask just about ANY rate you wanted then for Cobol and I’m sure if you can spell it today you can ask for the moon !

I took a COBOL class back in the mid 70’s. The course was based on chapters in a book, so you could work as far ahead as you wanted to. I finished (and passed) all the exams about 1/2 thru the semester… and at one point asked what the future held for a COBOL programmer… The answer (back then)…MAINTENANCE… So I took my “A” and dropped the class…

as to the brackets… I cut/pasted that from an article… the brackets were theirs not mine

Cobol wasn’t too bad. I was a student dev for an insurance company. My boss taught me that coding boils down to “add, change, delete, and view”. Everything was easy after that. We did development on System 36 and AS/400.

One cool thing we learned as students that if you requested a job to compile it’d enter a queue, but wouldn’t grab the source until its turn. So we’d get in to work, and request and pause like 10 requests. When we released one, it’d jump to the top as the creation timestamp was the oldest one. The ‘adults’ were not happy…

1 Like

MicroFocus Cobol :slight_smile:

nice to hear that we werent the only ones that did stuff like this :slight_smile:

1 Like

If you guys are familiar with COBOL have you looked at doing some consulting? I too have read a bunch of articles saying that you can charge top dollar for maintaining legacy COBOL systems. I think it’s used extensively in the ATM infrastructure for example.


damned periods

I started out programming a Zilog Z80 mini computer in COBOL. 80 character green on black Wyse terminals.

Every time I open VI now on my Linux servers it reminds me of programming on it.

First thing you did was DISPLAY SPACES UPON CRT that was how you cleared the screen. Talk about verbose!

COBOL? TERMINAL? all I had were punch cards… lots and lots and lots of punch cards.

Of course, the Z80 didn’t come out for a number of years after… When I was playing with COBOL, the concept of a “personal” computer didn’t even exist

The Zilog Z80 wasn’t a personal computer. It was a Unix based box about 5 feet tall that drew so much power it had two power plugs that had to be connected to supplies on different circuits.

I sat at one of around 150 terminals that were connected to it.

well ONE of us is confused… the Zilog Z80 was the successor to the 8080 microprocessor, and didn’t come out until the 1976. This was the processor the was the basis for the Radio Shack TRS-80 and the HeathKit H89. It was an 8bit CPU, so most likely couldn’t handle 2 terminals, let alone 150 terminals

Not to mention that Wyse wasn’t even founded until 1981

the pdp-8 series from Digital werent much more powerful and they ran rooms of terminal (I think they were 12 it or something screwy)
the pdp-11 was a huge upgrade for us at the university
never mind when we got a Sun much later !!!

but I’ll confess the only Z80 I knew of was the 8 bit CPU

I’ll research it but I’m sure that was what the machine was called. I used it from 1988 to 1991

I’ve asked an old friend who was with me if he remembers. It was definitely a Zilog machine with Wyse terminals. I remember the shelf of manuals for everything, plastic blue binders each one around 4 or 5 inches thick with ring bound manuals. I miss the days of proper manuals.

I also remember you could compile your COBOL apps with a parameter that only did the intermediate stage so you could see the C code it actually produced before it turned compiled that in turn into your program.

I can remember loading the C code for my application and not being able to understand any of the code despite having spent 2 years of my college course learning C. It was the most convoluted, complicated code you could possibly imagine.

Dave (my Dave) just text me to say that he remembers it being called a Zilog Z8. Very odd as I can’t find that on the internet anywhere.

I also have massively inflated the number of terminals as not all of them ran off this box apparently. It was around 30 he thinks.

I would love to see a website about this… I’ve searched in the last hour, and other than the ones I mentioned, 90% of the instances are SBC (single board computers) which were the predecessors to todays Raspberry level computer.

perhaps you are thinking of THIS, not the Z80, but the Z80000? (which I’d never heard of)

Zilog also formed a Systems Division, which designed the Zilog System 8000, a Z8000- or Z80000-based multiuser computer system running a Unix derivative called ZEUS (Zilog Enhanced UNIX System).[16][17]

It’s over 30 years now but things are coming back to me as we discuss. I remember that there was a little old lady called Eileen who oversaw the machine like a vulture. She keep the superuser passwords in a little book in her top drawer so we constantly knew them as we’d look when she was on a break! She changed them on the 1st of every month.

I remember once she had it as “vulnerable” and being quite naive she’d smile and nod as we asked her “How vulnerable do you think the password is Eileen?” “Ooooh, you boys will never guess it” she’d say :slight_smile:

I also remember wondering how intensively I could hit the box on a slow work day once. I spawned loads of processes over and over to see the impact of a tight loop. Unfortunately for me I’d called the program slow.cbl and forgot to change it when I compiled. The systems administrator (can’t remember his name) came charging in and almost throttled me on the spot as everything had stopped. ooooooppppps