Rich kids are into COBOL

Eric Smith spacewar at
Tue Feb 17 17:57:59 CST 2015

On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 4:44 PM, Dave G4UGM <dave.g4ugm at> wrote:
>> From: cctalk [mailto:cctalk-bounces at] On Behalf Of ben
>> Was FORTRAN portable or did most jobs fit only the large mainframes at the
>> time?
> So long as it wasn't DEC Fortran it was portable.....

Around 1977 I started using DEC Fortran-10 (and a little bit of
Macro-10). Having had as a basis for comparison only HP 2000
Time-Shared BASIC, DEC Fortran seemed wonderful.

There were certainly large Fortran jobs that required mainframes, but
there were also tons of Fortran jobs that would work just fine on
16-bit minicomputers with relatively limited memory.  I think it can
be argued that Fortran was the "killer app" for minicomputers.

In the mid-1980s I had a job porting about 25 KLOCs of DEC Fortran to
a PC. Because the compiler on the PC didn't support many of the DEC
extensions, it ended up being easier and faster to rewrite the program
in Turbo Pascal.  Had Tubo C been available, that might have been a
better choice for long-term support, but at the time it wasn't yet
obvious that the mainstream would eventually shun Pascal.

Without getting into the merits of Pascal as a programming language,
Turbo Pascal was at that time the best programming environment I'd
used, and (with apologies to C.A.R. Hoare) an improvement not only
over its predecessors but also over many of its successors.  The
Smalltalk-80 development environment was obviously better in may ways
(I'd read the books), but I didn't have access to a system that ran
it, nor would software developed in Smalltalk-80 have been suitable
for my clients.

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