10 Facts about COBOL You Might Not Know

10 Facts about COBOL You Might Not Know

COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) was invented in 1959 for business, finance, and government use. It was based on the work of Admiral Grace Hooper, the language has stood the test of time, even if it is not as fashionable as other languages, like JAVA.

Below are 10 facts about COBOL that you might not know and how they might affect your programming decisions.

  1. Over 70% of the world’s business systems run on COBOL. That makes this one of the most
    popular computer languages of all time. It’s important to remember that the foundations of this
    language are nearly 60 years old.
  2. Only 20% of schools require that their computer programming students learn COBOL. This is
    interesting given how popular the language still is. One important implication is that if you find a
    good COBOL programmer you can work with, hang onto them. They are a dying breed.
  3. In many places, newer programs are the face that has been put onto COBOL operating systems.
    For example, Simply Be, a women’s clothing website, has a JAVA shopping interface, but the
    back-of-house systems are all on COBOL.
  4. COBOL is often called a “legacy” program due to its age. The name is ironic since it is still used in
    the majority of large business enterprises.
  5. There are over 250 billion lines of COBOL still operating around the world. The reason that they
    continue to be used is because they work very well.
  6. Over $2 trillion dollars have been in invested in COBOL systems since its inception.
  7. Five billion lines of COBOL code are written every year.
  8. 90% of all of the world’s financial transactions are done in COBOL daily.
  9. With 310 billion lines of code in use around the world today, 220 billion are in COBOL!
  10. 75% of the world’s business transactions each day are processed in COBOL.

In short, regardless of how you feel about COBOL, it a vital part of business. There are fewer and fewer
programmers who are able to work in the language each year and even less true experts. If you are running a business-oriented computer system, chances are it uses COBOL on some level.
While the language is very easy to understand, It is based on English and the number of actual commands can be extremely burdensome. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Mike Gilpin, of Forrester, pointed out some of the problems with the modern languages. “Cobol is one of the few languages written in the last 50 years that’s readable and understandable,” he said. “Modern programming languages are ridiculously hard to understand.” 1

As we said earlier, great COBOL programmers are an endangered species. Be sure that whomever you choose really understands COBOL and is able to help you interface with your other programs easily and efficiently.

1 – http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/apr/09/cobol-internet-programming

Author: Rene Blum

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