As Professor Farnsworth Would Say...

[irs]http://www.cio.com/archive/040104/irs.html
[pl]http://www.sniggle.net/Experiment/index.php?entry=07Apr04&showyear=2004
"Good news everyone!":irs

p(quote).. THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE'S Master File is an accident waiting to happen. A legacy of the Kennedy administration, this database stores the taxpaying histories of 227 million individuals and corporations, including every transaction between taxpayers and the IRS for the past 40 years. The Master File is used to determine if you've paid what you owe, and without it the government would have no way to flag returns for audits, pursue tax evaders or even know how much money is or should be flowing into its coffers.

Yet the system still runs code from 1962, written in an archaic programming language almost no one alive understands. Every year, programmers, some who have worked at the IRS for decades, add new code to the Master File to reflect new rules passed by Congress. As a result, the system has become a high-tech Rube Goldberg machine. Those familiar with the Master File say it is poised for a fatal crash that would shut the government down.

p. Thanks to "Dave Gross":pl for the link.

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So, this would be a case

So, this would be a case where the phrase "An accident waiting to happen" would be a good thing.

OH GOD!! PLEASE PLEASE

OH GOD!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!! we can only pray ::):)):)):):):)end the madness.

I hear Microsoft borrowed

I hear Microsoft borrowed the technology for Access...

Jon H., -1 offtopic. Why do

Jon H., -1 offtopic. Why do you bring that up?

What's worse than that is that Miscrosoft is trying to patent a virtual desktop pager display. As if they invented that.

Um, does anyone know what

Um, does anyone know what language this system was written in? As a programmer, I find the assertion "...code from 1962, written in an archaic programming language almost no one alive understands." This sounds like extreme hyperbole to me, as it is either trivially true (there are no programming languages that almost everyone alive understands) or absurd. I am simply not aware of production programming languages which have so few 'native speakers' that the major work(s) written in that language are all but incomprehensible. (Problems with the comprehensibility of code have much more to do with architecture and design/implementation than with the language of implementation. "Dick and Jane" versus "Ulysses" if you will.)

Shirley

Shirley - its possible,

Shirley - its possible, isn't it, that the Government 1) developed their own language for writing is, seeing as how early it was, or 2) used a little known and little popular languange for political reasons?

Considering how few graduates today speak FORTRAN it's not surprising to me that something from that long ago could be forgotten - especially if Universities stopped teaching it in 1972.

Be that as it may, I'm just playing Devil's advocate. The journalist who wrote the story probably only has a passing understanding of the topic.