“What I soon learned was that the structure of COBOL, in particular the rigidity of the DATA DIVISION, made it the easiest language there is in which to modify someone else’s code.”
I’m sorry but I really fail to understand how for example a 30000 line program with all the variables that have to be global within DATA DIVISION is easy to modify. Trust me, whenever you want to change anything in such a program chances are you’re gonna screw something else. For all of those that mention the beauties of COBOL have you ever programmed in a real programming language? In any other programming language? I’m working with a few COBOL programmers and I completely understand the point in Dijkstra’s quotation. Once you start programming in COBOL it really rots your mind.
"When something came up she didn’t want to do, she’d just refuse to do it, or threaten to quit."
I completely understand that. After only a few years of programming in COBOL people are unable to grasp any concept that does not exist in COBOL. OOP? Refactoring? Local variables? SQL? It’s only flat files and spaghetti programming in COBOL programmer’s mind. Reusing the objects? Try writing procedures (functions are too advanced concept) for every little thing that you need. Need to copy, trim, concatenate or do anything to a string? Write your own procedure. And then copy-paste it everywhere you need. Need to do anything that every other programming language has a set of pre-made functions or objects for? It’s roll your own procedure in COBOL world! And that’s how we come to 220 billions of lines of code. It’s crap and unnecessary stuff for 90% of that! What you do in one line in most of programming languages it’s 30-40 lines in COBOL.