Really stupid Q?

Ross Alexander rwa at cs.AthabascaU.CA
Fri Jan 5 09:35:21 AEST 1990

toma at attctc.Dallas.TX.US (Tom Armistead) writes:

>I have a "requirement" to provide hard facts regarding COBOL performance
>under UNIX.  I am working for a client that is building a Unix system and

I like C.  I _love_ C, and do all my work in it.  I liked B before I
liked C (yes, B is a real language and a precursor to C), and I liked
assembler-H and GMAP before I liked B or C.  I hate COBOL, and hated
it from day one.  My personal biases are well formed and clear.

HOWEVER: there is no reason on earth (modulo lazy compiler and library
implementors) why COBOL performance should be particularly bad,
especially on a machine as inherently CISCy as a '386.  Developement
may be slower, debugging may be a little awkward ( "MODIFY dweeb TO
PROCEED TO looser." indeed :-P ), but to slap screens up, manipulate
ISAM files, and do decimal arithmetic, COBOL is just fine.  And COBOL
coders come cheaper than C hackers.

Besides, how much performance does POS require?  It's inherently rate
limited.  Humans can only shove stuff through a checkout so fast.
Getting things so that you can carry 20 registers rather than 15 per
server is nice, granted, but the % marginal improvement in overall
system price is probably going to be small.  And the labour involved
in getting C to do mixed-precision fixed decimal arithmetic is going
to eat that advantage anyway.  Not to mention the maintenance

I once wrote a POS application for LAN'ed 8088's; yes, it got written
in C.  I _think_ I needed the performance (also, I didn't happen to
have a COBOL developement system).  You have 20 or 30 times the
horsepower, perhaps "efficiency" redefines itself in such an

And another besides: with luck, the silly b*stards will go broke ;-)

Ross Alexander    (403) 675 6311    rwa at aungbad.AthabascaU.CA    VE6PDQ

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