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Christian Miles joined the group COBOL Programmers

"Christian Miles joined the group COBOL Programmers" Or so my LinkedIn status briefly read, and it wasn't long until a very good old friend of mine was asking if I was looking for a COBOL role, albeit somewhat tongue in cheek!

So why have I joined a COBOL (COmmon Business Orientated Language) group? More and more people have probably never heard of the language, certainly of the numerous job leads that land in my inbox every day COBOL is never a requested skill, so why the interest?

I started my profesional coding life in the 90's programming in COBOL - to be honest even at that time COBOL was well and truly on it's way out with languages such as Java and C++ becoming the flavour of the month.

Many of you may remember the media coverage of the Millenium bug.... and that when the clock struck midnight on New years eve, the world didn't end! Planes never fell from the sky and ATM's continued to work - many people put it down to the media blowing it up out of proportion and certainly there was some truth in that.

However, during  98/99 (or 1998/1999 to be Y2K compliant) a small army of COBOL programmers were working to fix the 'bug' and save the world! I know I fixed countless potential 'Millennium Bugs' which would have caused financial issues with the systems I was working on and the time.... and the trouble caused by the one bug our team missed which didn't strike until the 29th February 2000, our COBOL RTS didn't know that the year 2000 was a leap year!

Back then COBOL programmers may have been expensive to hire but at least you could find them! however today most COBOL developers are hitting retirement age, are retired or even dead!

Well if COBOL is also dead it probably doesn't matter..... but what if the rumours are true that there are still billions of lines of COBOL code being executed every day?

Only a few years back I was doing some work for a company which on surface supplied a .net system but dig beneath the system and you found UNIX and AS400 boxes running COBOL code developed over decade, how many more banking systems still rely on COBOL code? 

So what about the next COBOL emergency, will there be any COBOL programmers left? will the last few of us be required to save the world one more time?

Christian Miles