And it will only get worse I am afraid. How many "dead" languages will there be in 20 years? I maintain a key program initially written in Fortran in 1981 and still gets new features. It is like playing Jenga but I am powerless to replace it. Pretty sure it will still be running after I retire.
Well, you see, languages are tools. Hammers were invented quite a long time ago, and they're still produced, used, mantained and improved. Why? Because they are very good to solve some classes of problems. And that can be said for pincers, knives, C, FORTRAN nad any other tool, IMHO.
FORTRAN is still a very good tool to solve the class of mathematical problems but you wont see many programmers making it their language of choice for that. No modern IDE, not hip, never was exposed to it, etc. many reasons I suppose. It's not still used because it's a good tool, it's still used because it would be expensive to rewrite the programs.
A significant majority of the software that manages our lives is obsolete.
According to whom? Just because software is old doesn't mean it's useless, it's as useful as it ever was, and given the fact that it's been maintained for so long it's likely more reliable. What do you want to use for a mission-critical system, an old program that has been doing the job fine for 30 years, or something just cooked up by the new kid?
Seem to have hit a nerve with this one judging by responses.
(PS. Started looking at the Succinctly book, but have had to put it on hold - I'll come back to it when I'm sufficiently "bedded in" with Haskell to not find trying to learn two functional languages confusing).
"If you don't fail at least 90 percent of the time, you're not aiming high enough."