COBOL turns 50 (COBOL is dead; long live COBOL)


COBOL turned 50 on May 28, 2009

Interestingly FORTRAN, COBOL and LISP are the three languages that are of 50’s vintage; LISP has barely survived; FORTRAN is used in niche segments, but COBOL though considered old-fashioned still accounts for three-fourths of all ATM transactions and 70% of back-office (order processing, for example). As pointed out in an article in “Dr Dobbs”, the front ends have gone “pretty” with Java or VB but the back-ends are still dominated by COBOL, thanks to the unmatched speed of COBOL that is closest to business logic. According to Gartner there are close to 240 million lines of COBOL code still in use.

 Google searches are huge by any standard; 150 millions per day, but with 30 billion COBOL transaction a day COBOL beats Google 200 times!

It is interesting to note that many CS guys (including me) have talked of “COBOL is dead”; some guys who predicted the death of COBOL might have died; but NOT COBOL! Dr Grace Hopper whose idea very much influenced COBOL must be really happy in her grave!

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