sealPurdue News

August 9, 1996

Purdue process extends computer program life beyond 2000

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A computer process developed at Purdue University will extend the life of millions of dollars worth of business computer programs into the 21st century.

Jerry D. Smith, director of administrative computing operations at Purdue, said the process was developed for the university's personnel and other mainframe programs that were written in such a way that they could not cope with dates beyond Dec. 31, 1999. "We were looking at a major overhaul or replacement of our COBOL-language programs because of this problem," Smith said. "Just in our operations, we were looking at more than 100 subsystems, 13,000 programs and 7 million lines of code."

About three years ago, several staff members were assigned the task of finding an economical and effective method of updating the programs. "As we started converting our systems, we realized that we were not the only ones facing this problem," Smith said. "We realized that we had something that could be distributed as a solution to other public and private organizations."

Smith said the process uses software to examine the COBOL programs and identifies the sections of the computer code that need to be modified. A programmer then makes the changes.

The process developed at Purdue is being marketed by a high-tech start-up company, Venture 2M Inc., of Jacksonville, Fla. Jerry Brubaker, vice president for marketing at Venture 2M, said the company will focus on the ease of use for COBOL programmers.

"The key advantage to the solution is that it does not require a programmer to change records, files, input, historical or archival data," Brubaker said. "A programmer does not even have to change data fields in the application. The solution allows a programmer to make the necessary code changes to correctly calculate, sort and report 21st century dates. With this process, a company with 100 programs in a subsystem could make the conversion in about 150 hours. The changes are a long-term solution, because the problem is too large to face more than once."

The process already has fixed more than half of Purdue's administrative mainframe programs and is being used at other Big Ten universities. Venture 2M is working out an agreement to sublicense the process to other resellers and also is installing the process in its customers' mainframes.


Sources: Jerry D. Smith, (765) 494-1291; Internet:

Jerry Brubaker, (904) 731-1622

Writer: J. Michael Willis, (765) 494-0371; Internet:

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