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Interesting article! I've sometimes wondered if I should learn more COBOL. I'm 26, one of my gigs was to reverse-engineer loads of COBOL code whose functionality was being migrated to something modern.

There was a few of these very long scripts, written in the 70's. At the top was "Here be Dragons".

It felt cool after I figured out what interest calculations it was performing, I ended up leaving a comment "Dragon Slayer was Here" at the end of the script.

I don't know man, you can't kill COBOL dragons with a Ruby sword.

you should learn the domain knowledge there while the experts is still around, then migrate it out to ruby or .NET or whatever

I think most if not all Mainframes run Java, so I think saner would be to learn so I can port to Java.

There are still younger guys in our banks who COBOL, but the domain expertise sits with the much older guys. It's lately common for the older guys who go on pension to come back as "independent consultants". They earn a lot of course.

eh, modern mainframe even runs Linux, so not really a problem there technically

Just find one of the experts that are willing to answer whatever question you have on the legacy COBOL code

It's a solid skill, and one where a lot of the talent in the industry is going to retire soon. Mainframe skills in general, and COBOL specifically, are still very entrenched in financial services (namely insurance). I don't know a lot of people under 35 who don't shit themselves writing JCL.

How does one go about learning all the ancillary skills? I mean there's COBOL, sure, but then there's the system architecture of a mainframe, something for which there is precious little documentation and learning material on.

Some doddling around with an (almost certainly illicitly acquired) copy of IBM Z/OS on an emulator almost proved to me that no free resources exist.

That's a really good question that I haven't had to think about for a while - I've had some kind of mainframe access my entire career, although I've actively tried to avoid doing that kind of work too frequently. It's just not something I've ever enjoyed.

I'll ask around with my mainframe vets and get back to you. There has to be something out there.

I would be very grateful - a new (old?) way of thinking about computing is very interesting to me.

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