I was one of those people who took an aptitude test and was moved to a job in computers which I thought would be great, but turned out to be only marginally less boring than the job I’d done before, mostly copying numbers from one piece of paper to another.
But COBOL is a good language for the tasks it was designed to perform, those that when performed by humans involved mostly copying numbers from one piece of paper to another or in the case of a computer moving small static electricity charges from one memory location to another. Updated it still could be.
COBOL is not the problem, Microsoft is the problem. I now have a laptop in front of me that has as much processing power as a 1980s Cray supercomputer and yet this laptop sometimes struggles to run its own, bloated, ridiculously badly coded operating system.
And the people coming our of college now with their higher degrees in “computer science” are not programmers, they’re script kiddies.
On the internet scripts and the interpreters that convert them to executable code are everywhere, gobbling up resources, annoying users, exploiting loopholes, mining data.
Up to 2007 I was running Win 98 on my Windows computer and with a decent firewall installed I ran without anti — virus software all that time. How?
Because Win 98 let me block Visual Basic (VB) scripts from running.
Then when the old desktop system lay down and died I had to move to XP. HORROR of HORRORS, I could no longer block VB scripts. It was necessary to have VB scripts enabled “to improve page flow,” according to Microsoft.
In truth it was to enable and companies to run VB scripts within their adverts to collect data about my activity. Problem was it also enables hackers, pranksters, ransomware scammers, malware cowboys, virus merchants and general arseholes to run their crap on our computers.
From COBOL, Fortan, Algol and those other early languages we’ve gone downhill, transferring the skills needed to run computers from people to computers themselves. And now when (not if) it all fails, people are starting to fear there will be nobody to fix it.