The COBOL Programming Language
Click below to go directly to a specific section:
Significant Language Features |
Areas of Application |
Related Links |
Printed References |
COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) was one of the earliest
high-level programming languages. It was developed in 1959 by a group of
computer professionals called the Conference on Data Systems Languages
(CODASYL). Since 1959 it has undergone several modifications and
improvements. In an attempt to overcome the problem of incompatibility between different versions of COBOL, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed a standard form of the language in 1968. This version was known as
American National Standard (ANS) COBOL. In 1974, ANSI published a revised version of (ANS) COBOL, containing a number of features that were not in the 1968 version. In 1985, ANSI published still another revised version that had new features not in the
1974 standard. The language continues to evolve today. Object-oriented COBOL is a subset of COBOL 97, which is the fourth edition in the continuing evolution of ANSI/ISO standard COBOL. COBOL 97 includes conventional improvements as well as object-oriented features. Like the C++ programming language, object-oriented COBOL compilers are available even as the language moves toward standardization.
Significant Language Features
COBOL, long associated with green screens, core dumps, and traditional mainframe connections, may at first glance seem at odds with object technology, push-button graphical interfaces, and interactive development environments. This perceived incongruity, however, is more a reflection of the mainframe’s ability to keep pace with the innovations of desktop and client-server computing than a flaw in the COBOL language
- The language that automated business
- Allows names to be truly connotative - permits both long names (up to 30 characters) and word-connector characters (dashes)
- Every variable is defined in detail - this includes number of decimal digits and the location of the implied decimal point
- File records are also described with great detail, as are lines to be output to a printer - ideal for printing accounting reports
- Offers object, visual programming environments
- Class Libraries
- Rapid Application Capabilities
- Integration with the World Wide Web
Areas of Application
COBOL is ideally suited for the solution of business problems. For
example, if a company wanted to keep track of its employees’ annual
wages, COBOL would be ideal language for implementation. It is
interesting to note that COBOL was the first programming language whose use was mandated by the Department of Defense (DoD).
- Nickerson, Robert C. (1991). Fundamentals of Structured COBOL. HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York.
- Sebesta, Robert W. (1996). Concepts of Programming Languages. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., California.
The Hello world! program was written with the help of the Hello, World Page!.
Last modified: 03:31 PM on 11/09/1996
This page has been accessed