Hi there! I’ve seen the need for COBOL programmers coming for a long time, not related to any virus, but because of the straight forward math involved.
What age would a person be if he/she learned COBOL as part of a CS education?
You’ll probably realize that for this to be the case, which it never was or would be, the person would probably be 70+. COBOL was never part of any CS curriculum that I’ve heard of, as it was a commercial project, that in and of it self was made just to make more money. Including teaching the black magic to others was big business.
And COBOL isn’t just COBOL, as in one version, one paradigm.
To do any good as a developer and be able to actually keep todays systems working, you have to know both the old-style procedural, batch processing COBOL that was used until maybe the early 80’s and the newer Object Oriented COBOL.
COBOL was rewritten to support more “modern” features like Object Oriented Programming, threads, code running on more than one processor etc.
Those are two different beasts, but systems are usually composed using both approaches. It took many years to educate the existing workforce (some even refused to accept the “new” COBOL and continued on as before).
So this is a pretty big deal. The very few consultants that still know both versions of the language are probably 70+ years old, and considering that many systems have also been halfway ported to Java, as an attempt to modernize the codebase, you’d also have to be well versed in legacy Enterprise Java as well.
So, the attempt to modernize a huge amount of code wasn’t in any way a success story, it created even more tightly coupled code, now being past “legacy” state, spread across three areas of development, each deserving a “special interest only” stamp.
So what are we left with?
The most critical parts of the financial and government systems are running on a semi-hybrid two-paradigm COBOL mess, with a dash of outdated Enterprise Java code, functioning as a glue and a gateway to the more modern parts of the systems we depend on.
It’s like walking around knowing that your spinal cord is going to snap if you keep going, and still don’t stop. And it’s been like this for many, many years!
Basically the largest blunder in the history of computing!
So, that was a long answer… I didn’t have time to make it any shorter. ;)
To answer your actual question, I’ve never used COBOL for anything in a professional setting, except for being responsible for backing up large reels of tape backups of systems written in it, but that doesn’t even begin to qualify.
So, I wouldn’t feel very uncomfortable if I was put in front of a system somewhere, probably in a dusty basement, with a checklist of items that needed fixing before yesterday.