COBOL Terminates CA Pay Plan


Not since the Terminator got crunched by that machine press has Arnold Schwarzenegger been so abused by retro-technology.

Schwarzenegger wants to slash the pay of state workers in California, but it's really hard to do because of the ancient COBOL systems that handle payroll.

From the NYT: "David J. Farber, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said using Cobol was roughly equivalent to having 'a television with vacuum tubes.'"

It's worse than that. TVs are easy to replace. COBOL systems, not so much -- and they are more-widespread than people think.


2 Comments for "COBOL Terminates CA Pay Plan"

  • Thane Hubbell August 12, 2008 9:08 am

    I have to tell you - it's probably a ONE LINE CHANGE to cut pay by a certain percentage in the COBOL based payroll system. Finding that one line is where you need some skill but as a long time COBOL programmer I can tell you this is very trivial. They also have staff there already that can do it. Someone is maintaining this code. All the COBOL programmers of the world have not up and died.

  • cle August 12, 2008 2:29 am

    It is the design that is wrong. I will like to put forward the very clear view that it is the design of the payroll application that is wrong - not the language used for implementation. The old saying - dont shoot the pianist, but shoot the composer - is very much given here as well. It is the design not cobol that is wrong. I see most comments lack this view of the matter. -cle-

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