Personal Notes

What Is the Oldest Computer Program Still in Use?

MIT: Technology Review: What Is the Oldest Computer Program Still in Use?

In 1958, the United States Department of Defense launched a computerized contract-management system that it dubbed Mechanization of Contract Administration Services, or MOCAS (pronounced “MOH-cass”). The system was designed to use the latest in computation and output technology to track contracts in progress and payments to vendors.

Fifty-seven years later, it’s still going.

by Glenn Fleishman

Utterly mind-blowing. But aged programs like these present a challenge as fewer and fewer coders learn these older languages. The solution seems simple: modernize them. Unfortunately, that costs time and money, and most government bodies don’t have room in their budgets for such efforts.

Case in point: a government agency I support requires all of their trainings be compatible with Internet Explorer 11 because one of their primary internal systems relies on ActiveX controls only found in IE. It’s created issues, but my team has to keep working around this requirement for the foreseeable future.

MOCAS faces the same dilemma:

There have been efforts in the past to build a full replacement for MOCAS, and they’ve sputtered due to cost, complexity, and transition planning. Because the system handles so much that’s in progress and critical to the DoD, any new system has to overlap and perfectly hand off everything underway.