As useful as a COBOL programmer

As useful as a COBOL programmer

Jack was a COBOL programmer in the mid to late 1990s. After years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the Client/Server programmers, PC repair technicians and website developers, he was finally getting some respect. He’d become a private consultant specializing in Year 2000 conversions.

Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll on Jack. He began having anxiety dreams about the Year 2000. All he could think about was how he could avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it.

Jack decided to contact a company that specialized in cryogenics. He made a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000. The next thing he would know is he’d wake up in the year 2000; after the New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day. Nothing else to worry about except getting on with his life.

He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare minimum, and that was that.

The next thing that Jack saw was an enormous and very modern room filled with excited people. They were all shouting “I can’t believe it!” and “It’s a miracle” and “He’s alive!”. There were cameras (unlike any he’d ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out of a science fiction movie.

Someone who was obviously a spokesperson for the group stepped forward. Jack couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. “Is it over?” he asked. “Is the year 2000 already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises all over and done with?”

The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the programming of the timer on Jack’s cryogenic receptacle, it hadn’t been year 2000 compliant. It was actually eight thousand years later, not the year 2000. Technology had advanced to such a degree that everyone had virtual reality interfaces which allowed them to contact anyone else on the planet.

“That sounds terrific,” said Jack. “But I’m curious. Why is everybody so interested in me?”

“Well,” said the spokesman. “The year 10000 is just around the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL”.

  • Florian
    Posted at 13:09h, 05 December

    That one made me laugh hard 🙂

    yeah, but it’s going to be precisely like that. Even 8000 years from now, there will be some software that runs on cobol, assembly, python, java, C++, TCL etc.

  • koma
    Posted at 13:32h, 05 December

    Didnt get u at the last-” and it says in your files that you know COBOL”.

  • tony
    Posted at 17:03h, 05 December

    i have a new nightmare…

  • Jeremy Nicoll
    Posted at 18:25h, 05 December

    COBOL will never die. This goes to show you that even COBOL programmers want it to. 🙂

  • Phat
    Posted at 21:30h, 05 December

    Nice!! I lol’d.

  • Ross
    Posted at 22:00h, 05 December

    Now there’s a fate worse than hell. And I’ve actually written a COBOL program, although I don’t normally admit it.


  • Floyd
    Posted at 23:25h, 05 December

    That is freaking awesome! Good please COBOL. I learned programming from my moms college books which were from the 80s, and COBOL was among the topics that were learned from them.

  • Christian Sciberras
    Posted at 02:57h, 06 December

    This one just made my day!

    Good one ha!

  • DWB
    Posted at 06:28h, 06 December

    Allot of Y2K COBOL used a Windowing Technique. E.G. If century =< 20 then century = 19 else century = 20.
    For the C and Windoze people: if 2020 < 10000 the problem comes around much sooner than you think.

    I converted one EFT program for Y2K like this because all banks use a MMDDYY EFT file format. When I asked some government dude when they were going to change the date format, the answer was never.

    Dream on Little Broom Stick Cowboys

  • Lovocas
    Posted at 09:40h, 06 December


  • Alan8
    Posted at 10:50h, 06 December

    We all know Dilbert solved the year 2000 problem in 1999.

  • Adrian Thompson
    Posted at 12:27h, 06 December

    Now that is brilliant.

  • namekuseijin
    Posted at 14:21h, 06 December

    great, after a few thousands years of a nap he’s more than ready to cope with COBOL again… 🙂

  • Ecotech
    Posted at 17:11h, 06 December

    There is a real, deep knowledge about human nature, buried in this story: we keep reiterating our mistakes, even when we had fallen on our collective faces a few times before – exactly because of those mistakes 😀

    So I guess I should go and blow the dust off my Cobol, Fortran and JCL skills…

  • Tiklu Ganguly
    Posted at 07:41h, 07 December

    Ha Ha ha…thats a cool one. Even after so many days there will be cobol and there will be cobol developers 😛

  • John, the Fisherman
    Posted at 02:38h, 11 December


  • I’m taking a class involving COBOL right now. Thought I’d share this little story | struct by_lightning { … };
    Posted at 00:32h, 06 February

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