Podcast 225: The Great COBOL Crunch

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In this episode of the podcast, we talk about the history of COBOL, a "common business-oriented language", which is suddenly missions critical to government systems, like unemployment, overwhelmed by the pandemic. After that, we chat about the supply chain in China, which pivoted within weeks from pitching Ben electronic components to offering critical medical supplies.

Earlier this week, New Jersey Governer Phil Murphy announced that the state desperately needed the help of COBOL programmers. The 60-year-old programming language runs the state's unemployment system, and crashed under the historic influx of applications created by the COVID-19 crisis. So, if you're a COBOL programmer listening to this show or know a retired COBOL ace who wants to lend a hand, you can help get folks access to the funds they desperately need.

In the second half of the episode, we talk about Ben's many trips to CES over the years a journalist. This annual pilgrimage got him added to lots of email lists from manufacturers and suppliers of electronic components. In the last few weeks, the emails have suddenly shifted: instead of offering widgets and wires, they are pitching the ability to make and deliver critical medical supplies. We dig into the ways in which technology, hardware, and manufacturing have changed over the last few decades and the ripple effects that massive global transformation is having today. You can check out a great documentary on this topic below.

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