COBOL is an acronym for Common Business-Oriented language, which is a high-level programming language made for financial and business applications. The language comprises of English like phrase similar to that of MYSQL making it one of the easiest languages to start with.”  The high-level programming language refers to the language where the abstraction process takes place directly through machine language. Instead of using registers, memory addresses, and call stacks, high level programing language focus on variables, arrays, objects, complex arithmetic or Boolean expressions, subroutines, functions, and loops.”


As we are aware of the increasing population, and we have already hit an approximation of about 7 billion. The 7 billion people means, 7 billion bank account, more than 7 billion bytes of data, 7 billion transactions, 7 billion upstream, and downstream, and more. It is such a huge number to regulate and manipulate, for our salvation, CODASYL designed COBOL, commonly known as COMMON BUSINESS ORIENTED LANGUAGE, which is a compiled English-like programming language. It is primarily designed for business, finance, and administrative system. COBOL is mainly used in applications deployed on mainframe computers.

Due to the upcoming new technologies and modern programming languages, there has been a rapid decline in popularity of this language. Most programs are migrated to new platforms or replaced with software packages written in modern language. Still, many large financial institutes prefer COBOL due to high mainframe processing speed and still developing new systems in COBOL.

History of COBOL

  • In 1957, CODASYL (Conference on Data Systems Language) designed COBOL to an inevitable end. COBOL was like the FLOW-MATIC language developed by Grace Hopper. It was developed as a portable programming language for data processing as a part of the US Department of Defence.
  • Later, IBM announced COBOL as their primary development language in late 1962, further increasing its mass handling capacities, storage files, and tables facilities, enhancing its functioning, made it popular among government and private bodies.
  • In year 1968, ANSI(American national standard institution)approved COBOL for standard and commercial use. Since then, it has been revised four times, and development included structural and object-oriented programming support. Within two years after this, COBOL became one of the most widely used programming languages in the world.
  • Later, both ISO(International Organization for Standardization )and ANSI(American Standards Institute) started standardizing COBOL to overcome discrepancies and incompatibilities between them. They established groups to create standards.
  • In 1979, ISO TC97-SC5 installed international COBOL experts groups, which consist of experts from different countries and its principal objective was to establish mutual understanding between ANSI and people around the globe on the need for new COBOL features. In 1980, ISO changed the groups to formal working groups: WG 4 COBOL and from then ANSI made most of the proposal, and this group looks after ownership and development of COBOL standard.
  • In 1985, WG 4 of ISO accepted the version proposed by ANSI.
  • COBOL, with first object-oriented programming, was released in 2002, which enables users access to encapsulation.
  • Features like Method overloading, Dynamic capacity tables, IEEE 754, etc., were included in 2014.

Features of COBOL

Basic features of COBOL are given below:

  • The advanced file managing capabilities and storage tools of COBOL allow users to work and handle a massive amount of data easily.
  • Being a standard language, it can be easily read, compiled, modified, and executed on simple working stations as a personal computer and IBM AS/400.
  • COBOL was mainly designed for business-oriented applications like financial, defence, etc., and its robust programming features give access to significant testing and debugging tools on most platforms.
  • COBOL supports English format, which makes it very easy to express and perform. For instance, a comparison can be expressed as




  • To support this English-like syntax, COBOL has over 300 predefined Keywords. It even supports metalanguage like braces, brackets, bars, and underlines.
  • COBOL data is divided into different divisions for better functioning, which are given below:
    • File sector-for file records.
    • Working-storage section-for static variables
    • Local storage section-automatic variables
    • Linkage section-parameters and return value
    • report/screen section-text based user interface


Various advantages of COBOL are given below:

  • COBOL can be practiced as a self-documenting language, i.e., its codes are written in easy human language phrases which consist of human-readable names, depicts symbol’s meaning; for example, TryOpen” “ArticleNumberOfWords.”
  • Here we can easily distinguish these commands to depict open and counting of words. It consists of a clean and clear structure for better human understanding.
  • COBOL is capable of handling massive data processing.
  • As we are already aware, COBOL is the mainstream language, and for big data compilation, COBOL uses mainframe computer’s processing power. The data processing of COBOL is divided into six streams for the betterment of processing data.
  • Since 1959 till today, COBOL has numerous updates, which are given as:

COBOL 60 ,COBOL-61 to COBOL-65 ,COBOL-68,COBOL-74, 

COBOL-85, COBOL 2002, and object-oriented COBOL

COBOL 2014, and the major advantage for old users is that every update is fully compatible with its older versions.

  • The debugging feature provided by COBOL consists of a large number of interactive debugging facilities. These tools automatically determine the codes of program and subprogram being run, making it easier for the user to debug easily contain an error message system that easily spots bugs.
  • It is one of the most used high-level programming languages across the globe.


  • One of the most significant challenges for programmers was to accept the English like syntax used and the instructiveness of language, which was later treated in the newer updates. Earlier COBOL programming was monolithic and lacking modularization. There was no provided way to restrict access to specific data, .i.e. Data encapsulation was not possible. It can access any data and modify it. There was no provided way to parameters breaking for the single entry and single exit control of the data flow.
  • COBOL cannot perform or handle programs based on the application of science, physics. It emphasizes the banking sector, making it even more unpopular amongst students from a computer science background. There was condolence aroused in the community implying COBOL can only be used for non-challenging tasks.
  • Being a non-machine-oriented programming language, COBOL takes a greater time to compile its codes. In contrast, machine-oriented programming language provides the programmer with the most necessary controls to eliminate unwanted overhead, making the compiler sufficient to apply optimizations.


As we know, COBOL was developed for government sectors, accounting firms, bank defence, etc. Therefore, COBOL is still used in many banks who prefer the traditional method of banking. Numerous gigantic government firms, health care agencies, insurance, and finance establishments still prefer IBM mainframe systems. If, by any chance, there is a mainframe from IBM, the odds will be very high.

About the steady development and upgradation of the language the community is working day and night, and numerous codes are written in COBOL every year, there’s been a piece of news that COBOL codes surpass even the codes written by all other programming languages of the same field all together, which depicts how huge COBOL community is and what amount of codes are programmed every year. But still, there is no rigorous evidence to support the news, although programming languages like PYTHON still prevails the upper hand. They are written every year.

Being a COBOL designer is not a fancy task. You won’t be developing mind-blowing interfaces of academic programs counting you per day calory consumption; instead, COBOL jobs are steady and well paid. All you need to find is an industry or firm that knows how to manifest COBOL’s power as no other language, even the modern-day languages can handle and manipulate monitory calculations as convenient, and its performance is entirely predictable.

It’s been 80 years since COBOL came into existence ever imagined what makes it live and still in use, yet is one of the oldest programming languages; there has been a gradual decline in the number of people learning and mastering it, making it jobs even more demanding and one of the high paying languages. As stated earlier all you need to find is the correct institution. Even if you survey on the job providing websites, you will find almost all COBOL jobs with more than one or two applications.

Being someone from a banking, finance, or accounting background, what else can be better than working on a language having syntax as simple as English and without much effort having a positive addon on one’s resume, and having a chance to get a hands-on high-paying job.

All you’ve got to try to is “Do the maths “,


The primary audience consists of government and defence bodies, people from bank, accounts, and finance overtaking loads of data per day, students are pursuing accounts and finance.


Before going for COBOL, user must have understanding of computer programming terminologies and JCL(Job Control Language). The basic logic of computer programming will provide an upper hand. Entry controlled and exit controlled loop, IF and ELSE, Strings, Flow of control, Data manipulation, etc.


We assure you that you will not find any difficulty while learning our COBOL tutorial. But if there is any mistake, kindly post the problem in the contact form.

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