COBOL – 50th birthday

COBOL celebrated its 50th birthday on September 18, 2009. Many developers see COBOL as a relic, a dying dinosaur, or a stodgy language that has been superseded by more powerful systems. I believe that viewpoint as being uninformed. In honor of COBOL’s 50th birthday, here’s an overview of COBOL’s history and place in the current development landscape.

COBOL’s origins

COBOL was designed by the late, great Grace Hopper. Ms. Hopper had an extraordinary influence on the computing industry, including writing the first compiler, the “A compiler.” In addition, she served in the U.S. Navy, eventually attaining the impressive rank of rear admiral; there is even a U.S. Navy destroyer named after her in honor of her service.

COBOL was designed by committee, including representatives from the three government agencies and six major companies. The initial seed was planted in April 1959. On September 18, 1959, the committee picked “COBOL” for the name, and by the end of 1960, COBOL compilers had been completed and working programs had been made.

COBOL is an interesting language. Originally, it did not have many of the features that we have come to rely upon. For instance, you would not expect to find object oriented capabilities in 1959, but there were not even local variables then. The structure of a COBOL program is also different from what you would expect, being divided into different “divisions,” each of which serving a particular purpose. COBOL is best known for batch processing, in which large amounts of data are fed in and acted upon on a regular basis. In recent years, COBOL has undergone many changes and adapted to the needs of modern programmers, including adding object-oriented programming capabilities.

Source : TechRepublic


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