Rich kids are into COBOL
RichA at LivingComputerMuseum.org
Tue Feb 17 14:27:51 CST 2015
From: Ethan Dicks
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 11:03 AM
> On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 1:54 PM, Roe Peterson <roeapeterson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I wouldn't wish a COBOL career on my worst enemy. What a god-awful mess.
> I concur. In 1978 or so, when I was new to BASIC (and still in Jr High), my
> mother got me a book on COBOL
> in the hopes, I think, of inspiring me on a career path. I'd written a few
> dozen working programs in BASIC and typed in many more at that point. What I
> read horrified me. How could anything be that mind-crushingly verbose?
> Pages and pages of form and very little function. Fortunately for me, long
> before college, I fell into paying work in microcomputers, then as I started
> college, minicomputers. I did take a FORTRAN course my first quarter at
> University (my one and only!) and I did learn FORTRAN before C, but I don't
> think I was irreparably damaged by my early efforts.
As late as 1990, I was still telling student employees at LOTS that they ought
to learn COBOL and JCL (MVS and DOS/VSE) as well as the cool languages. That
way they were always assured of finding work while they looked for a job. I
don't think any of them believed me...
I learned FORTRAN IV (1401) and PL/1 and COBOL (360/40 under DOS) my last
semester of high school, then picked up 360 Assembler as well as improving all
three over the following summer. I only used Fortran in anger for a short
while in the late 1990s, but I made good money with COBOL and PL/1 through
college, grad school, and for a while beyond, until I moved into systems
programming (SVS/MVS and TOPS-20). In the mean time, I wrote a Pascal compiler
for the DEC-20, and began my lifelong love affair with Lisp.
My *only* forays into BASIC were to read the Tiny Pascal compiler articles in
BYTE, and the source for the Star Trek game that ran under Wylbur on the
UChicago Wylbur system.
I don't think COBOL has hurt me at all. In fact, I considered brushing it off
before I landed the current position, and I've had occasion to write some for
real production use at the museum.
Vintage Computing Sr. Systems Engineer
Living Computer Museum
2245 1st Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98134
mailto:RichA at LivingComputerMuseum.org
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