• Subject: Proportion of programming languages on AS400
  • From: Jon.Paris@xxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 14:59:02 -0500

 >> However I also heard that IBM are to withdraw support for COBOL compilers.

This comes in the category of urban legend. It probably started with a very bad
mis-quote in a UK (?) publication of something a former IBM development manager
said. He was, if I recall correctly, talking about RM COBOL on the AS/400. The
piece was later retracted, but of course no one reads those. The internet is a
wonderful vehicle for misinformation as well as information!

Last I heard, most government contacts require a COBOL compiler to be available
even if they don't intend to run anything but Java. Since IBM is the only game
in town for AS/400 COBOL it seems very unlikely that they would throw any chance
of business in that sector out of the window. I've heard of no plans to drop
COBOL, but I have heard of some of the plans for future releases.

If I recall correctly, of every 100 compilers sold by IBM on AS/400, about 18
are COBOL. That would imply that 18% of development sites use COBOL to some
extent. However, because so many AS/400 packages are written in RPG, over 90% of
COBOL shops also have an RPG compiler, even if they do all of their own
development in COBOL. This makes the figures you are after very difficult to

There are some differences by geography, for example I believe Brazil (one of
the South American countries anyway) is almost exclusively COBOL. That said the
figures do not vary wildly between the US and (say) Europe.

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