On top of ventilators, face masks, and health care workers, you can now add COBOL programmers to the list of what several states urgently need as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has put out a call for volunteers who know how to code the decades-old COBOL computer programming language because many of the state's systems still run on older mainframes.
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly said the state's Departments of Labor was in the process of modernizing from COBOL but then the virus interfered. "So they're operating on really old stuff," she said.
Connecticut has also admitted that it's struggling to process the large volume of unemployment claims with its "40-year-old system comprised of a COBOL mainframe and four other separate systems."
COBOL was developed back in 1959, according to the National Museum of American History. "Many American universities have not taught COBOL in their computer science programs since the 1980s," said Joseph Steinberg, an expert on cybersecurity.
Despite a dwindling number of COBOL programmers, a 2017 report by Reuters found that there are still 220 billion lines of COBOL in use today. In the federal government, COBOL is being used in agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice, and the Social Security Administration, according to a 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office.
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