This month in 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of COBOL. That’s right: In a world in which something can be outdated almost as fast as it moves off the shelf, COBOL (common business-oriented language), a code technology that predates Microsoft Windows, UNIX, Java and Linux, is 60 years old.

COBOL is a high-level programming language for business applications. It was the first popular language designed to be operating system-agnostic and is still in use in many financial and business applications today.

COBOL was designed for business computer programs in industries such as finance and human resources. Unlike some high-level computer programming languages, COBOL uses English words and phrases to make it easier for ordinary business users to understand. The language was based on Rear Admiral Grace Hopper’s 1940s work on the FLOW-MATIC programming language, which was also largely text-based. Hopper, who worked as a technical consultant on the FLOW-MATIC project, is sometimes referred to as the “grandmother of COBOL.”


1: COBOL is the original business language

Conceived in the 1950s, COBOL continues to provide critical functionality for many organizations’ core business systems in our present day.

2: COBOL is easy to read

When COBOL was created, it had the objective of establishing a way to enable ease of use for professionals to communicate more effectively with computers.

3: COBOL is modern technology

As a modern language, COBOL supports all contemporary deployment architectures, leading edge technology and composite applications.

4: COBOL is highly portable

One of the lasting legacies of COBOL is its ability to enable the same application to run unchanged across many different platforms.

5: For Business Systems, COBOL truly is Fit-for-purpose

Today’s enterprise applications must offer robustness, strong data manipulation, accuracy, speed and accessibility. As a business critical programming language, COBOL provides all of these offerings and more with its type-rich language for more precise data descriptions, unrivalled arithmetic accuracy, strong data manipulation for protecting the integrity of data, and the improvement of application performance through its speed of application execution and its overall accessibility.

6: COBOL, an ongoing evolution

Today’s COBOL products work using industry-standard IDEs, putting it in a familiar and productive environment that allows for teams to review and assist wherever it’s needed.

Fun Fact:  It is possible to deploy an ANSI 68 COBOL program (i.e something written in the 60s)–unchanged–into the cloud.

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