The COBOL computer programming language has turned 50 as of Sept. 18, making it one of the oldest programming languages still in use.
The COBOL computer programming language has turned 50 as of Sept.
18, making it one of the oldest programming languages still in use.
Officials at Micro Focus, a provider of enterprise application
management, testing and modernization solutions that has made its name
on COBOL, said the company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the
date the name COBOL was given to the computer language that continues
to underpin the modern world.
The name COBOL, short for Common Business-Oriented Language, was
agreed upon during a meeting of the Short Range Committee of the
Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL), the organization
responsible for submitting the first version of the language, on Sept.
18, 1959. This followed a meeting at the Pentagon where guidelines for
COBOL were first laid down.
Despite its age, COBOL still plays a pivotal role in running most of
the world's businesses and public services, from powering almost all
global ATM transactions, running nearly three quarters of the world's
business applications, and booking hundreds of holidays every single
day, Micro Focus said. According to some estimates, there are
more than 200 billion lines of COBOL code in existence, with hundreds
more being created every single day.
"COBOL has been a major part of the technology landscape since the
dawn of the computing age and it will continue to play a leading role
moving forward. Organizations have depended on COBOL for 50 years - a
testament to the language's resilience, flexibility and value," said
Ken Powell, president, North American operations at Micro Focus. "Over
the past five decades, COBOL has grown to encapsulate business logic at
the heart of organizations across all industries. As these
organizations make plans to modernize business-critical applications,
they will be able to draw on the reliability and breadth of business
logic that comes with this iconic language."
In May of 2009, Micro Focus published research showing that people
still use COBOL at least 13 times throughout the course of an average
working day. Yet, despite using the technology so often, only 18
percent of those surveyed had ever actually heard of COBOL. Equivalent
research conducted by Micro Focus in the United Kingdom showed that
U.K. citizens rely nearly as heavily on COBOL, using it at least 10
times per day.
Mike Gilpin, analyst at Forrester research and former COBOL
programmer, in a statement said, "...32 percent of enterprises say they
still use COBOL for development or maintenance... COBOL is one of the few
languages written in the last 50 years that's readable and
understandable... Modern programming languages are ridiculously hard to