A punch card ate my program!

Walt Mankowski
Talk Description: 

COBOL is the Rodney Dangerfield of programming languages — it doesn’t get any respect. COBOL is routinely denigrated for its verbosity and dismissed as archaic, and for good reason: COBOL bears little to no resemblance to modern programming languages. Yet COBOL is far from a dead language. It processes an estimated 85% of all business transactions, and 5 billion lines of new COBOL code are written every year!

Last year at FOSSCON I argued that COBOL isn’t such a bad language. This year we’ll journey deep into the past to recreate a retro bug that could only happen in COBOL! Our travels will include:

  • syntactic white space!
  • scotch tape!
  • dueling compiler options!
  • virtual punch cards!
  • sentences!
  • code blocks!
  • periods!

No punch cards were harmed in the creation of this talk.

Walt Mankowski is a recovering ivory tower computer scientist who recently completed a postdoc working with biologists to process and visualize terabytes of 2D and 3D time lapse microscope images. In his past life he spent 10 years as a COBOL programmer at a major cable home shopping network. He enjoys Perl, regular expressions, high-performance computing, and Futurama.