[Haskell-cafe] Somewhat random history question - chicken and egg

jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr
Sun Nov 11 21:30:41 EST 2007

Henning Thielemann:
> ajb at spamcop.net wrote:
>> Quoting jerzy.karczmarczuk at info.unicaen.fr: 
>> > ... tell me please: How many COBOL programs have you written in 
>> > your life? 
>> As you well know, only one COBOL program has ever been written.  The
>> rest are just modifications of it. 
>> Actually, a more interesting problem is what you'd replace COBOL with,
>> and how you'd go about it.  Wouldn't it be nice if there was a modern
>> language that you could write or rewrite new parts of your COBOL
>> application in, and it all worked seamlessly with what you already had?
> Do you think of something like ABAP?

A nice mixture of Cobol, SQL, a Report Writer language...
Gents, we can continue for years, not knowing where we are going with this

I must say that I got a little nervous. Two days of speculation on what
this awful GHC has been bootstrapped from, as if the fellows who *did it*
couldn't be asked directly! They read this list, and laugh... 

Then a ha_ha_ha over the the corpse of Cobol. OK, perhaps not a corpse...
Plenty of people, and some companies, like Fujitsu, still predict a bright
future for this language. God bless them. 

Obviously, a primitive, hierarchic database approach to programming is
something very far from compilation issues. 

But, frankly, if you permit a serious remark: I think that there will be
a serious breakthrough in the Haskell popularity in the Great World, when
Haskell is applied to the construction of a fabulous, optimized ... 

... COBOL compiler. 

Or Fortran, or SQL, or Basic. Or whatever, all *BUT* Haskell. 


I have an anecdote for you. Real one. (An anecdote is *not* a joke).
During my studies we had to make a small plastic box for some electronic
circuit (it was hundred years ago, don't forget...)
We bought some pieces of something related to polymethyl methacrylate (for
profans: plexiglas, acrylite, whatever). Awful stuff. Too brittle!
But, but, we found for it a fabulous usage! When dissolved in some solvent
manufactured from ether + acetone + some other tasty beverage, it
transformed into a viscous substance which was a *wonderful*, ideal glue,
for gluing these damn pieces together. 

So, the lesson we learnt was the following:
we got a substance whose main application was to make out of it a glue
to glue itself. 

Since the boss of the Lab would not appreciate the high level philosophical
issue related to our observation, we had to find some other usage of this
glue, so we glued his chair to the floor. After this hundred years they
still look for the culprit. 

Jerzy Karczmarczuk 

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