COBOL stand for Common Business Oriented Language was one of the earliest high-level programming languages. It was developed in the year of 1959 by a group of computer professionals called the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL). Since the year of 1959 it has undergone several improvements & modifications. In an attempt to conquer the problem of incompatibility among several versions of COBOL, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) developed standard form of the language in the year of 1968. This version was known as American National Standard (ANS) COBOL. In the year of 1974, ANSI published a revised version of (ANS) COBOL, having a number of features that were not in the year of 1968 version. In the year of 1985, Still ANSI published another revised version that had new features not in the year of 1974 standard. Today, the language continues to evolve. Object-oriented COBOL is a subset of COBOL 97 that is the fourth edition in the continuing evolution of ANSI/ISO standard COBOL. COBOL 97 involves conventional development as well as object-oriented features. Since the C++ language, object-oriented COBOL compilers are available even as the language moves toward standardization.

Significant Language Features:

  • The language that automated business
  • Let names to be truly connotative - permits long names (up to 30 characters) and word-connector characters (dashes) both
  • Every variable is described in detail - it involved number of decimal digits and the location of the implied decimal point
  • File records are also defined along with large detail, as are lines to be output to a printer - ideal for printing accounting reports
  • Offers object, visual programming environments
  • Rapid Application Capabilities
  • Class Libraries
  • Integration with the World Wide Web

COBOL, long associated along with core dumps, green screens, and traditional mainframe connections, may at primary glance seem at odds along with push-button graphical interfaces, object technology & interactive development environments. However, this perceived incongruity 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

Some characteristics that contribute to COBOL's success:

COBOL is self-documenting:

One of the design aims for COBOL was to make it possible for non-programmers such as, managers, supervisors and users, to read and understand COBOL code.

COBOL is simple:

It is a simple language (no pointers, user defined types, user defined functions) with a restricted scope of function. It encourages easy straightforward programming style. Curiously enough though, in spite of its limitations, COBOL has proven to be well suited to its targeted problem domain (business computing).

COBOL is non-proprietary (portable):

The COBOL standard does not belong to any specific vendor. The vendor independent ANSI COBOL committee legislates formal, semantic language standards and non-vendor-specific syntax. COBOL has been ported to virtually every hardware platform - from every favor of Windows, to every falser of UNIX, to VM, AS/400, OS/2, VSE, VMS, DOS, Unisys, DG, and MVS.

COBOL is Maintainable:

It has a 30 year proven track record for enhancement, application maintenance, and production support at the enterprise level.

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