COBOL has hit the news in 2020 in unexpected ways. In November, popular longform story aggregator Longform.org led with a prominent piece on the “code that controls your money” — “COBOL is a coding language older than Weird Al Yankovic. The people who know how to use it are often just as old. It underpins the entire financial system,” wrote Clive Thompson.
Earlier in the year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy drew international media attention with a plaintive request for help knocking the back-end systems powering New Jersey’s emergency care system into shape: “Literally, we have systems that are 40 years-plus old, and there’ll be lots of postmortems,” he said, as New Jersey ran into issues modernising the system . And one of them on our list will be how did we get here where we literally needed COBOL programmers?” Murphy told the world.