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Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

There is a VERY old box.

It is running dos.

On this dos box there sits a database that is used by a very old shop.

The data has 'fallen over' in the past week - they rely on the data and have never backed up - in over 25 years!

All their customer records are ONLY ON THIS BOX. There are no printouts for me to create something new - just the box and the data on it and two floppy disks which create a backup.001 file.

The database / program is written in COBOL 3.1.31

The majority of the program works, however the MAIN part has broken, the CUSTOMERS! Their names, addresses.

All the data is there, the files consist of the following formats; *.DAT / *.IDX / *.BAT / *.SRT / There is a BRUN41.EXE and the program works from a .EXE file, however, it falls over if you look at the CUSTOMERS records (the most important part).

There are four main CUST*.DAT and CUST*.IDX files - these files are the ones I need to be able to read, in order to create a new database for them. I am not a programmer, I would hope to create it in ACCESS for them. Their small business relies on the customer records files and I am trying to help them as far as possible.

Before throwing it out of the window (I am 50, my life as a young girl was using a BBC computer writing games smile - however, as I said, I'm not a programmer but I do remember DOS and it's all coming back to me as I am trying to retrieve this information but now I am stumped.

Please, could somebody help point me in the right direction as to how to extract the customer records for them?

Many thanks,

An old 80's girl smile

RE: Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

You have no source code? No program specs? Probably no hope! But, I think, Microfocus provided the COBOL compiler - maybe they could provide something to allow you to read the indexed file(s). Possibly you could try browsing the .dat files in a text editor and extract the data from there - a manual process but better than no process.


RE: Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

Hi Nic,

Sounds encouraging then winky smile

Since the last post I have managed to 'rebuild' the Cust data file and it now appears within the database. However, there is another set of records (.dat and .idx files) linked to this showing publications issued to each individual customer - that record will not 'rebuild' and produces the following error :

***Error on input file - not MF indexed or variable format
The input file is not an indexed file, or a variable format file in the format used by this system. The return code is set to 1.

Make sure that the file you specify is either an indexed file, or a variable file whose format is recognized by this COBOL system.

I have been using information within the link below which help but cannot find what I need to do with that one .dat file which throws the database completely if it is not deleted. The database will run if I delete it but of course, there is no data to be read for the publications linked to the customers.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. I cannot use a text editor as it just shows as crylic type txt. I have tried all types of 'readers' found on other links such as these but none will show the addresses in clear txt in order for me to extract the data for a new option for them.


RE: Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

The IDX files contain index information. If you are interested in recovering the actual data, then you should focus thee DAT files.

That said, there are still a bunch off difficulties. The data records are compressed. My recollection is that run length compression is used. Then, some of the numeric data fields may use BCD (1 digit [er nibble, 2 digits per 8-bit character) with leading, trailing or no sign representation.

Without source code, at least for the record layouts, you are facing a daunting task.

Is there a copyright or other information on anything? That might help...

Tom Morrison

RE: Vintage Cobol Files - Help Needed Please

Agree with nclouston, contact Microfocus to see what they recommend. They may even have vendor partners who can assist with the recovery, or do it all themselves. It has been a long time since I worked with Microfocus, but I seem to remember some sort of ISAM file recovery tool - that's what these are, ISAM files (Indexed Sequential Access Method). And yes, the data is in the DAT files while the indexes are in the IDX files, and the storage format for both files is proprietary.

advanced cognitive capabilities and other marketing buzzwords explained with sarcastic simplicity

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