brain sizes: Einstein's and women's

Cary Kittrell cary at
Wed Jul 17 11:41:06 EST 2002

In article  "John Knight" <johnknight at> writes:
<"Parse Tree" <parsetree at> wrote in message
<news:Ne6Z8.6589$Db.356565 at
<> > In fact of course almost all COBOL code is written by professional
<> > programmers.
<> >
<> > 2.3 What's Good About COBOL?
<> > More people can write COBOL than C/++. There is more COBOL code than
<> > probably any other language.
<> This is not true at all.  C/C++ combined is far more popular than COBOL.
<> Actually, there are many languages that are more popular than COBOL
<> (presently).
<I agree.  By posting this reference, I didn't mean to imply that I agree
<with all its points.  Even for business programming, my bet is that Cobol is
<way down the list, and always has been.  

Other than the fact that it was the most widely used commercial language through 
the mid-80s, you'd be right.

> I'm most familiar with Algol, and

Oh REALLY?  You are, are you?  How very interesting.  Quick, explain
call by value-result, and how it differs from the two most common
parameter binding schemes which are found in other languages (I'm
sure I won't have to specify those two other, far more common mechanisms,
because you're an expert,eh?)

While we're at it, since you're an expert, I'm sure you're also
aware that some implementations of algol skip recalculating
the address of the formal parameter at exit time, using the
address noted at entry time.  Explain under what circumstances
this time-saving feature will blow up, giving incorrect results.

<Unisys (which used to be Burroughs) built a LOT of business and banking
<computers based on Algol.  Algol was already widely accepted before Cobol
<was even developed, 

Algol-58 went nowhere.  COBOL was developed in `59, released in `60,
the same year as algol-60.  Other than that, you'd be right.

<All of the developers of computer languages have touted theirs as the most
<widely used, and it's impossible to quantify those claims.  But with all the
<shortcomings of Cobol, due mostly to government involvement 

COBOL's problems had to do with the early state of language design, 
not with government involvement.  ADA is another story entirely.

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