How the 60-Year-Old IRS Computer System Failed on Tax Day

12 kwi 2019
439 098 wyświetleń

On Tax Day 2018, the IRS electronic filing system went down. Turns out the government's computers were still partially relying on code 60 years old written for gigantic IBM mainframes like the Martinsburg Monster. What happened?
● LGR links:
● Music used in order of appearance:
"Nautical 2" by Loscil
"Anekbah Theme"
Glancing at the Moon, Open For Business 3, Observations, Driven Electronics 4
● Sources for this episode's info:,,id=180038,00.html,,id=180038,00.html
#LGR #TechTales #Taxes

  • Calling it the Monster probably didn't help public perception...

    ManjushriManjushri3 dni temu
  • Just like the American military - they claim to be the most modern & best, but majority of their support & core systems/infrastructure are creaking & decrepidly old.

    Redline RichRedline Rich11 dni temu
  • LGR Tech Tales is the business!

    Cirque Du OpinionCirque Du Opinion13 dni temu
  • Just started watching tech tales. Loved the y2k vid. Very interested in seeing your take on the dot com bubble.

    riddickfanriddickfan19 dni temu

    Pronator TendonPronator TendonMiesiąc temu
  • What do you want to bet that they're still using a version of that computer? Perhaps a hybrid. So they don't lose all that history.

    Christy ShultzChristy ShultzMiesiąc temu
  • “These systems are un-American, we can’t cheat the irs like before”

    Nick SloukaNick Slouka2 miesięcy temu
  •'s disgusting to hear we are paying taxes to support paying taxes to pay for us paying taxes. Had we simply adopted a flat tax NONE of that would have been needed.

    ISOHavenISOHaven2 miesięcy temu
  • 0:26 So the outage will last until 31 December 9999, or basically forever.

    Cake GamersCake Gamers3 miesięcy temu
  • Dear LGR, I really enjoy using my computer to watch the videos you make on your computer about other computers :-)

    Meri LundströmMeri Lundström3 miesięcy temu
  • IRS: (Collective groan) Rest of America: "Oh thank god!" conversely IRS (fix machine, throw party) rest of america: (Collective groan)

    All GamingAll Gaming3 miesięcy temu
  • I love these stories! I worked at IBM from 1997-2010, I lived some of your stories. It’s like watching true crime or forensics files.

    Replicant2600Replicant26003 miesięcy temu
  • Moon landing hoax. *

    Varun SimonsVarun Simons4 miesięcy temu
  • Watching this during the 2020 Pandemic. Some states' unemployment offices still use 40 year old computer systems and software that run FORTRAN. With the large influx of unemployed people because of the pandemic, systems are being overwhelmed

    J. Akamu-AdamsJ. Akamu-Adams4 miesięcy temu
  • Fascinating. How a complete kludge of software built on outdated hardware with software piled up one another on newer hardware using different languages with any changes to the compilers used, not withstanding any querks or "features" in those compilers timelines, all piled on top of each other to create a teetering wobbling mess be made to function at all. Bewilders me. The real heroes are the unmentioned poor sods tasked with the unenviable job of keeping this whole morass working. The best thing for it? Kill it with fire. Start over.

    Chris RennieChris Rennie4 miesięcy temu
  • Will it continue to hold? Not with the current "administration" in place.

    New Horizons For FiftyNew Horizons For Fifty4 miesięcy temu
  • Not every problem is solved by throwing Linux, Java and Oracle at it.

    GilGil4 miesięcy temu
  • Being a current IBMer, this is awesome. I work with mainframe code and programs over 30 years older than I am, and they are surprisingly robust. Our current issue is that all the specialists that either built these programs or know the code inside and out aren't getting any younger - nobody will be left to support these applications!

    Reece ParryReece Parry4 miesięcy temu
  • 7:05 i shudder to think that this was probably over telnet

    Max WoofMax Woof4 miesięcy temu
  • This story Is truly fascinating to me. You would think the government would have more modern equipment but at the same time, why spend money if their system hasn't failed?

    The RocinanteThe Rocinante5 miesięcy temu
  • I love LGR tech tales, restoration and oddware videos

    Fábio MiguelFábio Miguel5 miesięcy temu
  • Poor COBOL code. Sounds like they need a well deserved retirement.

    gunbladeuser19gunbladeuser195 miesięcy temu
  • 10:32 IBM could've ended all that by telling the IRS what they did to actually fix it. Then they could... fix it. The fourth row from the top explains how it could've been prevented.

    Aidan ChappelleAidan Chappelle5 miesięcy temu
  • It's been 2 years since and now, during a global crisis, the IRS's delaying from modernizing outdated COBOL systems have led to massive problems again

    Dane MaricicDane Maricic6 miesięcy temu
  • I feel COBOL is given a bad rap because it has existed so long. It's not a dinosaur as some people think. It's continually updated and runs most things that require transactional data (e.g. stocks, credit cards, etc) because the Mainframe is designed for multitasking throughput. It seems to me that the IRS fell asleep at the wheel in its hardware upgrades.

    Rita BaumannRita Baumann6 miesięcy temu
  • Great fun ! Thanks !

    Peter BustinPeter Bustin6 miesięcy temu
  • Man RETRO techs looks BEAUTIFUL they just look mysterious and cool

    CUN_009CUN_0096 miesięcy temu
  • Welcome to the year 2020. COBOL programmers are being sought right now. IBM is giving away free COBOL classes.

    John ScottJohn Scott6 miesięcy temu
  • the IRS is still using 60 year old clunker code to even process my info for the COVID19 Stimulus.....I have yet to get my 1200.

    mansharker8mansharker86 miesięcy temu
  • Tragedy occurred because a non expert thought he knew better. Why is this so common?

    Jay KaiserJay Kaiser6 miesięcy temu
  • "How the 60-Year-Old NJ Unemployment Computer System Failed During COVID-19"

    Kyle DelaneyKyle Delaney6 miesięcy temu
  • IRS in 2080: "We really should update these old 2020 systems."

    xjohnny1000xjohnny10006 miesięcy temu

    F CF C6 miesięcy temu
  • I bet a huge chunk of our tax dollars went to feeding power to this machine!!! >:(

    Tyler JenningsTyler Jennings8 miesięcy temu
  • And now the machines will take over the world. T-1000s everywhere!

    Khajiit ThundercatKhajiit Thundercat8 miesięcy temu
  • 8:47 This is off topic, but imagine being in that room with all those computers! The click clacking of the keyboards, the whine and loud clicking of old HDDs, the occasional floppy disk reader noise... :) that would be the coolest.

    Vanilla BeanVanilla Bean8 miesięcy temu
  • If you are worried about security it would make sence to hire all people using a solid old school program that no one understands anymore. Hehe. That way things are kept working properly. Just move the 20 to 40 and continue to keep the punch card system going.

    mccallumcramccallumcra8 miesięcy temu
  • If it isn't broken, don't fix it, I guess

    ninjacat230ninjacat2308 miesięcy temu
  • And imagine, you can probably store a quarter of all those reels on a single petabyte server.

    FastLikeUNOFastLikeUNO8 miesięcy temu
  • Well this is a government that also pays some of its officials anywhere between $100,000 to $400,000 of the taxpayers hard earned cash for basically treating the US Citizen as a means to an end of their own career and life. US Politics revolves around not what best serves the American People, but what best results in that official's career and life being set up for good. The hell is a single person being paid upto $400,000 a year for? being a public servant? thats.. thats not how a non corrupt system should work. Then again you pay for that road infrastructure to be nice and maintained but is it? nah, likely funneled either into paying those ridiculous paychecks or into paying for something to make your lives even harder, OR paying for the worst developed modern jet to date! F-35, what a wonderful waste of taxpayer money so far.

    DaSmooolsDaSmoools9 miesięcy temu
  • I'm too broke to owe but I always file at like the second week in January, no thanks irs fucks you aren't keeping my money ya greety fucks lol

    michael kotlowskimichael kotlowski9 miesięcy temu
  • LGR tech tales are so addictive.

    Jonathan WestJonathan West9 miesięcy temu
  • Eh. I just get my taxes done at -🤫

    7b7Ben7b7Ben9 miesięcy temu
  • By the GODS I love old tech. From everything from the first electromechanical machines, especially the history of arcade gaming from lawn games centuries ago, to billiards 300 years ago, to the first slot machines. Hell supposedly the first vending machine was for holy water in ancient rome 2000 years ago. LOVEIT! ^~^

    Screw The NetScrew The Net9 miesięcy temu
    • BUT FUCK TAXES! ANARCHY NOW !OR a meteor...either or.

      Screw The NetScrew The Net9 miesięcy temu
  • I didn't know cache overflow could be a problem at the IRS...

    SkorpiusSkorpius9 miesięcy temu
  • my grandfather used to build the buildings for the old IBM mainframes, yes, the buildings for them. From what he told us they needed alot of ventillation and he mostly worked on the roof. amazing we have come this far

    Jack KentJack Kent9 miesięcy temu
  • Implying that COBOL is the problem is wrong. It is leaps and bound faster than java when working with this amount of data, I heard the reason CADE was cut was because it took 3 days to do the work the COBOL system did overnight on 90's hardware on modern hardware. You could get those speeds with C sure but the gov doesn't want to spend that kind of money when people say they could do it cheaper.

    SmashededSmasheded9 miesięcy temu
  • imagine you're government do your taxes for you this comment is posted by Europe gang

    Andreas HansenAndreas Hansen9 miesięcy temu
  • 6:21 "tech savvy tax practitioners in particular" try saying that five times fast!

    Emily AtherisEmily Atheris9 miesięcy temu
  • Cool but.... Can the Martinsburg Monster run Doom?

    AliceAlice9 miesięcy temu
  • So my birthday date became tax day? **sad birthday noises**

    eXPerienceeXPerience9 miesięcy temu
  • Taxation is extorion. Government is mental slavery. the reason their paper tokens have value is that if you do not produce these tokens (which you must work to obtain) at the end of the month or year.... you get the goonsquad, who will take your property, put you in a cage, and will kill you (and your dog) should you offer resistance.

    obi kwanobi kwan9 miesięcy temu
  • Taxation is theft.

    PursuitOfFitnessPursuitOfFitness9 miesięcy temu
  • I think it's stupid that the IRS is now calling us customers. We're not customers. A customer can take their business elsewhere. We're taxpayers. And I try to treat the people I interact with us such. Except the people I interact with don't actually pay taxes, but take money out of the kitty. Of course, we could double or triple the number of exams we do, and we still wouldn't scratch the surface. I'd say at least once a week I see another return that should be looked at, but we don't have the manpower to pursue it.

    Todd no last nameTodd no last name9 miesięcy temu
  • Thank goodness the IRS still has those great IBM 360 "brain machines!" I'm so reassured.

    BOBXFILES2374aBOBXFILES2374a10 miesięcy temu
  • "We need $30k of your money per day to take more of your money."

    David EdwardDavid Edward10 miesięcy temu
  • Hey LGR are you stupid sexy mouse pink 😂

    richie 33richie 3310 miesięcy temu
  • This is why I hate legacy code... instead of replacing it, companies try to make it compatible with more recent software... and at some point, of course it will fail, and at some point, of course they will need to update their programs, and the more time passes, the more it costs to update it. I don't understand why big companies never understand that.

    NaesoNaeso11 miesięcy temu
  • Hey man! I love LGR and especially tech tales. How about doing an episode on Novell and Netware? It'll be fascinating and extremely popular among old IT dudes like me.

    macbrushmacbrush11 miesięcy temu
  • Bro..... Pateron. Tech Tail. Series.Tier You get the funding to more of these, its clearly what you love and what die hard LGR nerds enjoy. We will pay. I sense that you'd love top do a full documentary and I think you should talk Blake J Harris, the Author of Console Wars. I know a while a go he wanted to do a doc version of the book and tech tails are mini documentaries. I can dream.

    Sean TSean T11 miesięcy temu
  • Wait.... America has a singular Tax day as apposed to a Tax period for weeks to months that my amazing country allows??? Or is a deadline?.

    Sean TSean T11 miesięcy temu
    • Its a deadline to file income tax and pay if required for individual citizens for a tax year. Companies however, depending on how they are structured, are required to file and pay quarterly or monthly. Typically, the only people who wait until the last minute to file are those who probably owe money. Everybody who is due a return will file in early February so they can get the money they have overpaid in withholdings returned to them.Typically Tax season in the United States starts at the end of January and runs through April 15, a.k.a. Tax Day.

      lwvmobilelwvmobile7 miesięcy temu
  • taxation is legalized theft.

    Paul NewhousePaul Newhouse11 miesięcy temu
  • Man, I've watched every last Tech Tales video now. Can't wait for your next one, Clint!

    Flaturiah BorborygmusFlaturiah BorborygmusRok temu
  • So their brand new server was actually what caused the problem?

    camthesaxmancamthesaxmanRok temu
  • Americans 1955-1978 Don’t trust the government computers with all your info! Present Americans Let’s put all our information and pictures on social media!

    Bald BullBald BullRok temu
  • Weirdly enough most of the people in my town if they're federal employees and some sort still have old and outdated like 1980s to early 90s. And weirdly enough they were getting onto some government mainframe.

    Christy ShultzChristy ShultzRok temu
  • I love how they use the phrase "electronic computers"

    New_AccountNew_AccountRok temu
    • To be fair, the term computer has become associated with what computers are today. In the past, they probably referred to any sort of device that could perform computations without the use of 'electricity' such as a lever like those old tills and adding machines that use the hand lever. Back then 'electronic' was probably more akin to meaning 'digitally' as in sending it from point A to point B over a line as opposed to physically being there.

      lwvmobilelwvmobile7 miesięcy temu
    • As opposed to non-electronic computers lmao.

      NEBULANEBULA9 miesięcy temu
  • 1:28 - Internal Revenue Service: Fairness, Integrity, Efficiency In what f&$^ing universe!?

    Loren HelgesonLoren HelgesonRok temu
  • People: "We love America!" Also People: "The Government needs Money to Operate? Un-American!"

    Jordan LuceroJordan LuceroRok temu
    • Unless it's money for the military. Then it's suddenly ok again

      jakobolejakoboleMiesiąc temu
  • why they could not upgrade in 2015

    camper tvcamper tvRok temu
  • what the heck OMG

    camper tvcamper tvRok temu
  • The IRS weren't prepared very well and rushing too much which caused the problem.

    kirby march barcenakirby march barcenaRok temu
  • Do 3do please

  • This really is the best content youtube has, I really wish Clint had the time and resources to do more content likes this.

    Esko SaarinenEsko SaarinenRok temu
  • I wish the IMF were actually replaced by nothing And I'm not talking about the Individual Master File

    Lu de la CIALu de la CIARok temu
  • Gotta love those decisions that favor older firmware instead of upgrading it. Dammit, if IBM said the bug was present and it would crash, it's a gamble from there onwards.

    Tiago de AvizTiago de AvizRok temu
  • Very well put together, as always.

    Ray FenwickRay FenwickRok temu
  • Or, now hear me out, OR we could just revert back to them using computers that played nicely with the IMF. Why fix what wasn't broken.

    HelladamnleetHelladamnleetRok temu
  • The social security building here in So Cal, was using older beige boxes for ages......and their systems would slowly update data over the course of months and months. The US Government charges more and more taxes and tariff's but they wont update their aging data processing infrastructure!! lmfao!!

    mansharker8mansharker8Rok temu
  • This is such a crazy story.

    Zachary DrummondZachary DrummondRok temu
  • For the government itself, it's not a big deal. System crashing ? Just delay the deadline with 1 week. Done.

    John L. KnowdyJohn L. KnowdyRok temu
  • someone should incript all the computer files used by the IRS then delite all of the files and over write each file 50 times with asky junk good by IRS.

    Pro. LogicPro. LogicRok temu
  • Put the IRS out of business, how?? the whole world stop using money of any kind.

    Pro. LogicPro. LogicRok temu
  • You could make a more efficient program in Scratch then with using a mainframe like that.

    Doge of CoinDoge of CoinRok temu
  • Taxation is robbery so it's good it failed.

    Fell ManFell ManRok temu
  • My dad’s company have a similar situation. Literally, they rely on radar machines from the 1940’s. Most of their systems come from the 1950’s and 60s, but lots of 1970’s systems are still in use. It’s honestly incredible. Apparently they are experts at maintaining old hardware, and tend to prefer keeping 1960’s systems running rather than their more modern replacements, as if you break it down enough the 1960’s equipment is simply transistors and switches, and dad’s company are really good at replacing these components to keep it running. The other day, I received from them a bunch of components from a 1982 286 DOS machine, which had been doing important work for 40 years nearly. It also came from a 2005 monitor. It’s only being replaced now, and I think it might well be being replaced with another 286 rather than a modern PC.

    Just Another Youtube ChannelJust Another Youtube ChannelRok temu
    • It's not that surprising, given how incredibly expensive this tech used to be. My father worked with CNC machines when He still could work, each costing Some Single digit million DM back in the day (i'm from Germany). Most of them built in the late 80s. But the company kept them, because just a New Maschine was a huge investment to make and the old stuff was still working fine.

      Magic MedicMagic MedicRok temu
  • So basically, the old software and the old data in its old file format work perfectly fine and have done so for decades. Yet the whole system fell over due to a bug in NEW hardware that was not patched because SOMEONE thought it might not be worth doing. Solution: High availability and redundancy. Implemented by: Creating a second mirror system that is ready for rollover at a moments notice. Everyone who has critical systems should be doing this.

    dlarge6502dlarge6502Rok temu
  • Someone tried to run Crysis on it.

    captain0080captain0080Rok temu
  • Why would they use that type of tech in this era?

    weeneweeneRok temu
  • When are you doing the next one

    michail okeefemichail okeefeRok temu
  • It's the same all over the world, and thinking closer on it it isn't that surprising either. This is also common in the industry. Many legacy systems around there ad well...

    John DoeJohn DoeRok temu
  • This was fascinating.

    purplerainspurplerainsRok temu
  • Reading the comments on the video, you have the smartest audience on PLworld

    Kait SKait SRok temu
  • My Dad who would be over a hundred now,worked for the Dept of Agriculture as a data systems analyst for payroll!,He was one of the very first and was over his dept! He received calls constantly in the evening because he understood the code better than anyone else !

    MelodyMelodyRok temu
  • This video really hammers home that the government sucks at doing anything.

    Don SkiverDon SkiverRok temu
  • Tech tales are some of my favorite videos on the channel! You always talk about really interesting stuff, and everything is thoroughly researched!

    Kait SKait SRok temu
  • Can I play GTAV on those?

    Pvt PeppersPvt PeppersRok temu
  • Nothing good happens at 3AM.

    Unforgetable LuncheonUnforgetable LuncheonRok temu
    • Break time for graveyard shift employees.

      RaymondHngRaymondHngRok temu
  • There is "The lick" (not complete, it is missing a few notes) at 2:00

    Gian ViannaGian ViannaRok temu
  • Did this episode remind anyone else of the Siemens 4004 from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory? Actually, a rebranded RCA Spectra 70 machine designed to work with the IBM system/360! All credit for this information to, an archive of various machines used in movies and television over the years with some surprising detail

    Tom GeeTom GeeRok temu