COBOL is a programming language that reads like normal English and mostly used for (as the name suggest) business and administrative purposes. The name stands for Common Business Oriented Language. Now COBOL is in a format that is no longer used or supported by new modern systems, thus referred to as a legacy language.
Even though modern system no longer support COBOL, COBOL is critical to the success of many company and because of that has stuck around even technology has move forward around the years.
COBOL has been around since 1959, and i’m sure that most people who read this were not born yet when COBOL first came up. Well that count for me as well.
COBOL was one of the first ever high-level programming languages created. Created by the CODASYL (Conference On data Systems Language), COBOL runs on the mainframe as well on a PC.The first person to came up with the idea for COBOL is Mary Hawes, with the goal to create “an English-like vocabulary that could be used across different computer to perform basic business tasks”.
It was during the 1980’s that some small business moved some of their mainframe COBOL programs to PC. This was no simple task for sure. Because during this time COBOL was widely considered as a “thing of the past” it was obsolete, mainly because technology was becoming more object-oriented around this time.
Why Still Use COBOL?
However COBOL was not left behind completely. It continues to power about 70 percent global transaction processing systems, according to MicroFocus(A company who maintains COBOL). Pulled money from an ATM? yep that was COBOL, even booking your vacation almost certainly relies on the Common Business Oriented Language.
When some company was hit by the idea of migrating their COBOL programs to new languages, they found out that their programs were quite large and difficult to migrate. According to a software engineering research center “Lero“, COBOL transactions dwarfed the enormous Google searches by 200x in 2014.
Another advantages of COBOL is that the language has kept up-to-date with its neighbours. Today COBOL integrates with Docker containers and Java, also running in the cloud, or Linux or even Windows, or on just about ANYWHERE.It’s a highly portable programming language even though it is around 60 years old now.
The only risk to COBOL is that, nowadays its getting harder to find COBOL qualified programmers. I mean sure it is still widely used in business transactions all over the world, but there are less and less programmers who grows up dreaming to write their first COBOL program.
The programming language that I specialize in is Java, because I think Java programming language is more universal and of course because I like it regardless of any reason.