This Translator Saves Your Program And Your Pride

Mainframe computers usually contain hundreds of programs, including numerous versions of each in various stages of update. Although few managers like to discuss it, sooner or later, the master copy of one of these programs - the so-called source code, written in the language Cobol - gets lost. And Cobol source code is almost impossible to reconstruct from what's left in the system - the blizzard of 0's and 1's that actually control the computer. Since the best programmers can't read those numbers very easily, customers often wind up rewriting lost Cobol.

Source Recovery Consultants Inc. in Frenchtown, N.J., says it has a better way: a program that uses artificial-intelligence techniques to translate orphaned machine code on IBM mainframes back into Cobol. Previous schemes have translated the O's and 1's into an intermediate language called assembly code, but that's not nearly as useful as Cobol. So far, customers in the insurance, banking, food, and electrical industries have taken advantage of Source Recovery's services - but none wants to admit publicly that it had to.