I grew up on mainframes. Not by choice, that's just where the jobs were when I graduated. Your words have never been truer on mainframes.
Seems every 'optimization' I could ever remember coding in COBOL database access was eventually nullified by either hardware improvements or underlying system optimizations that worked around inefficient programs (The vender was deep into optimization, not us). We were always creating ever more complex, in-efficient and slower running code, and the hardware was always upgraded to keep step. You could even say "throw more hardware at it" was the mantra. The same attitude was taken towards refactoring. Not a lick of old code was ever cleaned up (cost < benefit). New code was built on old code, which was built on older code, etc, etc.
Today this company continues to fight an escalating war between ever slower applications and ever faster hardware. So it has been in the 20 years since I started there and who knows how many years before that. It's a festering, stinking pile of code dung that nobody wants to touch. It's too expensive to maintain and even more expensive to replace.
This company is probably as profitable today as it was 20 years ago (much to my surprise), so it's not like the error of their ways has killed them. But I believe if they'd just taken the time 20 years ago to foster a more 'efficient' attitude they'd be a much more profitable company today. Every thing looks cheaper when you're only looking at the short term.
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