What Next: TBD

The Code That Runs Your Life

COBOL is 60 years old and still propping up the world’s financial and health-care institutions.


Episode Notes

Banks, health-care providers, and retailers around the world still rely on COBOL, a programming language originally developed in the 1960s. By all accounts, the code is powerful, practical, and very rarely problematic. But the small group of people who still know the language are aging out of the workforce.

What happens when there are no more COBOL coders left?

Guest: Clive Thompson, journalist and author of  “Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World.”


About the Show

Every Friday and Sunday, Slate’s popular daily news podcast What Next brings you TBD, a clear-eyed look into the future. From fake news to fake meat, algorithms to augmented reality, Lizzie O’Leary is your guide to the tech industry and the world it’s creating for us to live in.

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  • Lizzie O’Leary is the host of What Next: TBD, Slate’s show about technology, power, and the future. Previously, she created and hosted Marketplace Weekend. She has reported for CNN, Bloomberg News, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She is also a contributing writer at the Atlantic.