Why COBOL Had Been So Popular Till Now?

COBOL - COmmon Business-Oriented Language

As you've seen, COBOL is a language with a 50-year history. COBOL is more than just another programming language. COBOL is an integral component in the public and private infrastructures in nearly every country on the planet. There is scarcely a person alive today whose life hasn’t been affected by COBOL programs. 

These programs perform the day-to-day operations of governments, banks, transportation systems, and manufacturing and distribution systems. Invisible but powerful, COBOL is the brick and mortar of our information systems.

If you’re interested in working with the large information systems at the core of business everywhere or in developing new business applications, you should know COBOL. The good news is that COBOL is very knowable, straightforward, and fun to write. The further good news is that COBOL is rich, challenging, and present in the most complex of systems. You won’t get bored.

Introduction to COBOL.


COBOL abbreviation is used for COmmon Business-Oriented Language. COBOL is a high-level language with English-like syntax, COBOL has been embraced by every sector of business and government for its readability, maintainability, and portability.

To understand the full impact of COBOL, you need to understand that COBOL was designed by people for other people. It’s not a language defined for a particular machine—it’s a language designed to make it easier for more people to make machines do what they want them to do. The people behind the design constitute a dedicated group of individuals who, for more than 40 years, have labored to create, maintain, and expand this vital language. Crucial to their participation has been the funding, support, and guidance provided by industry leaders.

COBOL History.


In the 1950s, there was a movement to create programming languages geared specifically to solving problems in business.

A prominent example of a successful programming language for business was FLOW-MATIC, developed and refined by the Sperry-Rand Corporation between 1954 and 1958. FLOW-MATIC was adopted by many large corporations and by the United States Air Force. It was relatively easy to code and debug, largely because its commands were English-like verbs.

In 1959, a meeting was held at the University of Pennsylvania to draw up requirements for a universal business language that could be used on all computers. The group asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to help sponsor the research, and the DoD agreed.

Note: Interestingly, the DoD is often given credit for sponsoring COBOL as a way to standardize computing within the military. However, this is not strictly true, the Pentagon did quickly see the benefits of the effort and contributed heavily once invited.
At a May 1959 meeting held in the Pentagon, the group members tentatively decided to call their project Common Business Language (CBL). The group laid out the language’s major requirements: simple English verbs, emphasis on ease of use overpower, and separate data and procedure segments.


a predecessor to COBOL
Grace Hopper, the inventor of FLOW-MATIC, a predecessor to COBOL

By the summer of 1959, the committee had developed a language-based largely on the FLOW-MATIC verbs and its three parts—procedure, data description, and environment. These parts are now three of the four modern COBOL divisions.

In December 1959, the final draft of the first COBOL specification was completed. Although COBOL has been frequently refined in a formal standardization process since then, many technical decisions made then affect the language today.

COBOL’s hardware independence has driven a great deal of change in the ongoing specification of the language. This specification strongly emphasizes standard methods (i.e. Standard COBOL syntax) of input/output, because those operations form the backbone of business computing.

Since the characteristics of input/output devices—and computing technology in general—have changed so rapidly, COBOL has needed to expand and change accordingly. COBOL has gone through many changes since it first appeared in 1960, and most of these modifications have been through the forum of a rigorous standardization process.



The dominance of COBOL in Enterprise Computing.


One reason for learning COBOL is its importance in enterprise computing. Although the death of COBOL has been predicted time and time again, COBOL remains a dominant force at the heart of enterprise computing.

In 1997, the Gartner group published a widely reported estimate that of the 300 billion lines of code in the world, 240 billion (80%) were written in COBOL.  Around the same time, Capers Jones identified COBOL as the major programming language in the United States, with a software portfolio of 12 million applications and 605 million function points.

To put this in perspective, in the same study he estimated that the combined total for C and C++ was 4 million software applications and 261 million points. According to Jones, each function point requires about 107 lines of COBOL; so, in 1996, the software inventory for the United States contained about 64 billion lines of COBOL code. Extrapolating for the world, the Gartner estimate does not seem outside the realms of possibility.

Finally, in a May 2013 press release, IBM noted that nearly 15% of all new enterprise application functionality is written in COBOL and that there are more than "200 billion lines of COBOL code being used.

COBOL: The Hidden Asset.


In reality, COBOL is arguably the major programming language for business applications. The numbers supporting the dominance of COBOL in the business application domain sound incredible. Certainly, a lot of skepticism has been voiced about them on the Internet and elsewhere. But much of the skepticism comes from those who have little or no knowledge of the mainframe arena, an area in which COBOL is strong, if not supreme.

Characteristics of COBOL Applications.


COBOL is one of the most powerful and robust languages, it is being around for the last 50 years and proven his track records. In the 21st century, due to below mention salient feature COBOL is still giving a tough fight to the new generation programming language.

COBOL is a Robust Language.
COBOL Is Self-Documenting.
COBOL Is Stable
COBOL Is Simple
COBOL Is Maintainable

Future of COBOL.


COBOL has a 60-year proven track record for application production, maintenance, and enhancement. Today's IT space is flooded with new programming languages with tons of features but still, they can't beat COBOL. COBOL is still growing with constant pace and you will be surprised to know that 9/10 critical business application are using COBOL. Almost 70% of people use COBOL applications while traveling/ withdrawing money from ATM etc.

Are you interested in learning COBOL?


If the answer is yes, then check out below COBOL Tutorials links. I have designed these COBOL tutorials to explain COBOL programming basics. You can refer to various COBOL examples to build a comprehensive understanding of the topic.


  1. COBOL PERFORM CLAUSE
  2. COBOL EVALUATE
  3. COBOL DIVIDE CLAUSE
  4. COBOL MULTIPLY CLAUSE
  5. COBOL COMPUTE CLAUSE
  6. COBOL REDEFINE CLAUSE
  7. COBOL CONTINUE CLAUSE
  8. COBOL NEXT SENTENCE CLAUSE
  9. COBOL IF ELSE STATEMENT
  10. COBOL INSPECT STATEMENT
  11. COBOL SEARCH STATEMENT
  12. COBOL UNSTRING VERB

1 comment:

  1. It would be nice to have links relevant to your main topic linkable from the that topic.
    For example, from this page ("COBOL"):
    "COBOL COMPILATION PROCESS"
    http://mainframe-forum.blogspot.com/2014/07/cobol-program-compilation-process.html
    "COBOL EVALUATE STATEMENT"
    http://mainframe-forum.blogspot.com/2014/08/cobol-evaluate-statement.html
    "DIFFERENT FORMS OF EVALUATE"
    http://mainframe-forum.blogspot.com/2019/04/different-forms-of-evaluate-statement.html
    "ARRAY IN COBOL"
    http://mainframe-forum.blogspot.com/2013/09/cobol-table.html
    etc.

    ReplyDelete