State of New Jersey needs COBOL programmers

Boris Gimbarzevsky boris at
Sun Apr 5 23:12:53 CDT 2020

At 16:12 05-04-20, you wrote:
>On 4/5/20 6:28 PM, geneb via cctalk wrote:
>>On Sun, 5 Apr 2020, Neil Thompson via cctalk wrote:
>>>I'm convinced that Dijksta (and anyone else who came out with similar
>>>comments were full of horseshit.  In my opinion, it's the ability to
>>>translate a real world "thing" into an algorithm that is the essense of
>>>programming, and anyone who has managed to learn (particularly on their
>>>own, as many of us did) that ability has learned something that transcends
>>>the language (or tool) you use to implement the algorithm.  When I first
>>>started programming professionally, we had "programmers" (or sometimes
>>>designers) who specified the algorithms and "coders" who implemented them.
>>>That never worked well
>>Yep.  You can write horrible code in /any/ language. ;)
>>BTW, I scanned & uploaded this last week.  Oddly relevant.
>I still have lots of them.  And Printer Output Forms.  And Fortran
>Programming Forms.  And all kinds of other Programming forms.  And
>Flow Chart Forms.  You know all that stuff we actually used to
>engineer programs before the software engineers came along and said
>we were all doing wrong.

Ran into a bunch of my FORTRAN programs from over 
50 years ago as well as the obligatory flowcharts 
I would do first before writing a single line of 
code. Code written in pencil so could erase 
errors and only then would I use a keypunch for 
final version.   Also a few FORTRAN coding 
forms.  Back then, with sometimes a 48 hour delay 
between submitting my card deck and getting 
program output, it was well worth spending an 
hour or two to print out contents of cards and 
carefully check that there weren't missing commas 
and or other errors that would mean correcting 
the stupid mistake and resubmitting ones card deck.

Never got into COBOL as my main interest was 
real-time computing and so next step up was 
access to PDP-8 which had FOCAL and quickly 
learned that programming in assembler was the way 
to go.  Still like assembly language programming 
and suspect my early experience of learning to 
code in an environment where there wasn't really 
a dividing line between software and hardware 
(people would build custom boards for 
PDP-8's/PDP-11's to speed up data acquisition) 
that the biggest change I made in my programming 
style was to switch to VB as it allowed me to 
easily create the graphical interface I needed 
but still let me link to C or Assembler routines 
in my VB6 code until windoze became too locked 
down to be of any use.  Still haven't got all my 
VB6 programs running under Wine on Linux but at least Linux has FORTRAN and C.

Part of what I've noticed is that I can't sit 
down at a keyboard and write code (as one is 
supposed to do nowadays) and it turns into a 
total mess.  I still use flowcharts when I'm 
dealing with tricky code and the nice thing about 
flowcharts is that one can easily create a 
hardware state machine from them.  Was nice in 
1970's, but now a Propeller chip, even using 
interperted Spin code, works far faster than the 
TTL state machines I used to make.  Other 
paleo-programmer related deficits include being 
totally unable to use RDB and still make use of 
linked lists and hash tables to create my 
databases as have been doing this for 50 
years.  Software Tools was probably the most 
important book I read in 1983 as it got me out of 
my rut of writing a massive FORTRAN program to do 
a specific task that I'd have no idea how to 
modify even 6 months later to small useful tools 
that could be strung together.  Back then 
engineers I worked with would have total disdain 
for Comp-Sci types who would still be working out 
their code indentation scheme while we would 
already be using a quickly written throwaway 
program to perform a particular task.

The other thing I should bring up is that my wife 
is after me to get rid of a lot of my old 
books.  While rumaging through the attic of my 
shop found boxes of old computer books which I'd 
like to keep but have been told that if I haven't 
looked at them in 15 years that it's unlikely I 
will in future.  Will check in see if some of 
them have been scanned onto bitsavers or other 
sites but have 68000 programming books, 6502 and 
other microprocessor related books as well as 
lots of Mac books when I just had to get into the 
guts of a Mac to do what I wanted.  Have a number 
of PDP-11 Unibus cards which likely won't use and 
will have to get all of that sorted out.  Once 
have a list of what I've got will post it on my 
web site.  I live in Kamloops, BC if there's 
anyone on this list who lives close by who's interested.

More information about the cctalk mailing list