Saturday, July 03, 2010

Cobol as an Obstacle for the Terminator

Amazing at least!

I do recall that after I watched “The Terminator” in 1984 I did comment with friends that it was funny that the code that was shown on the movie, as the code for the robot, was written in Cobol. I did recognize Cobol right away, and of course, the language was the most inappropriate for handling real time systems. Anyway. It took some time to find a confirmation of my memory, but I found it. It is here.

Well, it happens that the California State Payroll system is a legacy system written in Cobol, as I first guessed and found confirmation by googling. See it here. As Ira Baxter, chief scientist at Semantic Designs, pointed out, this crisis started in 2008. See different sources on the same topic: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Now, 26 (twenty six) years after I watched the movie, I read on the LA Times the following statement from Controller John Chiang: “The state's wheezing payroll system, he says, cannot easily be reprogrammed to make immediate, large-scale salary adjustments.”. It happens that the California State Controller is refusing to follow Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger orders to cut the state workers’ pay to the federal minimum wage.

Software is, slowly, showing its importance to society at large.