[TUHS] Bell COBOL Environment?

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Fri Jul 14 06:34:06 AEST 2023

Matt - I never had direct (user) experience with it.  I saw a demo of LPI's
product at a trade show.  It might have run on Ultrix, but if it did, I
have no memory of it being in the test suite we used for releases. Also, I
do not remember if LPI-Colbol was attached to a specific DB implementation
or not.  In those days, there were a number of them besides Ingres -
Informix, IBM's DB2, and one that started with an S - which later was sold
to Microsoft to become SQL-server to name a few, and that may have been
part of it.  But there were bundled applications for different markets
(running a dentist's office, car dealership, store, restaurant, *etc*..)
that ran on small UNIX boxes and used those DBs.

What I remember was that only a few firms were offering Cobol for UNIX (I
think that IBM, DEC, DG, and maybe NCR had them from previous OSses), but
the new generation of UNIX boxes did not - although 3rd parties like LPI
sometimes offered them.  Since it looks like AT&T is naming it/offering it
with their product, that is another example of AT&T management missing the
market.  AT&T's management (Charlie Brown) was interested in going after
IBM and probably thought that Cobol was important if they sold to IBM shops.

The problem was that except for some really large 'Big Blue' places that
never bothered tossing out Cobol (like Wall Street and some insurance
companies --* i.e.* early IBM computer users), I always thought that
writing *new code in Cobol or trying to port old code *was not done that
often because the firms that were switching from Mainframes to UNIX were
generally tossing out their homegrown applications at the same time and
replacing the entire suite with something like SAP, BAAN, or Oracle
APS that were networked, well integrated into things like PCs, used ASCII,
*etc*. - *i.e*. using the replacement as the time to really upgrade their
entire back office and possibly moving away from Big Blue based - which was
not cost-effective (particularly for smaller firms).   Another point was
the Big 8 accounting firms started offering services that used the minis
and UNIX boxes with SAP/BAAN/Oracle APS).  Finally, I may miss remembering
WRT to LPR-Cobol, but it was similar to today's Java in that it compiled
into an interpreter.  Plus, the impression I always had was that it was not
designed for practical large-scale use or performance.

BTW: this is a different behavior from the scientific world.  From mini to
supercomputers, in most cases, scientific users could not toss out their
scientific computing tools and replace them with COTS alternatives (*i.e*.,
no firm like SAP, BAAN or Oracle providing "packaged" solutions for a bank
or business). But since most of the production apps being used came with
sources or the few that were commercial (Cadum, CATIA, Ansys *etc*..), it
was possible to recompile and move things - so people did or the IVSs did.
Even today, as one of my former colleagues put it, any sr computer system
manager that ignores Fortran will eventually get fired for incompetence as
it is still #1.

On Thu, Jul 13, 2023 at 3:02 PM segaloco via TUHS <tuhs at tuhs.org> wrote:

> Reading through [1], there are documents offered by AT&T for the "Level II
> COBOL" system, which some further research indicates is a product from
> Convergent (same folks as the UNIX PC.)  There's also the LPI-COBOL which
> appears to be a Language Processor Inc. product.
> Are these the earliest AT&T endorsed COBOL solutions for UNIX or were
> there other efforts either promoted by Bell or even perhaps developed
> locally that were in any use before this version?  Or otherwise is there
> any other family of ubiquitous UNIX COBOL tools that was in use in the 70s
> and early 80s, before the timeframe of this document?
> Additionally is anyone aware of any surviving code or binaries of either
> of these or other, earlier efforts at COBOL on UNIX?  I have no goal for
> this information in mind yet, but just gathering details at this point.
> Thanks all!
> - Matt G.
> [1] -
> http://bitsavers.org/pdf/att/000-111_ATT_Documentation_Guide_Nov87.pdf
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://www.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20230713/d8368180/attachment.htm>

More information about the TUHS mailing list