Do you know that billions of programming codes residing in Mainframe systems are written in COBOL language? Like the Mainframes, the COBOL language has also stood the test of time, without abating its industry relevance. The most amazing fact is that in the constantly changing IT industry COBOL has remained relevant for the last five decades. The adaptability to continuously evolve with the current IT trends is one basic reason for the successful journey of COBOL through decades. Let us have a brisk walk into the intricacies of this evergreen language.
History of COBOL
COBOL the acronym for Common Business Oriented Language is one of the oldest programming languages created by a committee named CODASYL in 1959. Grace Hopper, an American Computer Scientist working in US Navy, headed this committee. The committee comprised of major Universities, computer manufacturers and the US Government agencies. COBOL was the first programming language that could be run on more than one manufacturer’s computer. Before that, each computer manufacturer had to design and develop their versions of language to tell the computer what to do. The COBOL is designed and developed as a business problem solving machine independent language, which can be subjected to frequent changes and revisions. Initially, COBOL was used for developing file-oriented business applications, and was not intended for writing systems programs. Over these years, this language has been subjected to continuous improvements and adaptations to the needs of modern IT environment.
COBOL remains as the most popular programming language on z system. This is important especially when more than 60 percent of organizational business data accessible through the Internet, is stored on Mainframes. In addition, 83 percent of all business transactions and 95 percent of all financial and insurance data are being processed by COBOL language on z/OS.
According to IBM, there are currently about 2 million strong COBOL programmers in the world. IBM’s introduction of Enterprise COBOL for z/OS enabled integration of business critical COBOL applications with modern web technology.
Even if critics project reasons like wordiness, rigidity of COBOL as disadvantages there are numerous advantages for this language. The primary advantage of COBOL is that the coding style is simple and straight forward without using pointers or other user defining capabilities. Other noted COBOL features include:
• Platform Independence
• High readability
• Easy to upgrade and revise codes
• Support large volumes of transaction data
• Quick application capabilities
• Easy to integrate with web
• Self documenting
• Robust and time tested
• Language structure(Wordy)
• Programming inflexibility
• Rigid format
• Not suitable for scientific applications
The simplicity and ease of use have made COBOL programming more business friendly and accessible. No wonder, the first English resembling programming language COBOL remains as the cornerstone for billions of critical business transactions in global enterprises. In this era of Mainframe resurgence with added capabilities and improved features being embedded into Mainframes, COBOL language is not going to get obsolete, even in the far distant future.
In short, the relevance and the capabilities of COBOL are increasing day by day.