COBOL is introduced

7th November 1959
COBOL is introduced

COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages. Its name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language. COBOL was primarily used in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments. It is still in use today, though declining in popularity.

On April 8 1959, a meeting of computer manufacturers, users, and academics was held at the University of Pennsylvania Computing Center to discuss common business languages. At this meeting, the United States Department of Defense agreed to sponsor an effort to create a common business language.

A meeting was held at the Pentagon on May 28 and 29 1959. At this meeting, it was decided to set up three committees: short, intermediate and long range. The Short Range Committee, chaired by Joseph Wegstein of the US National Bureau of Standards, was given the task of specifying the language.

On November 7, 1959 a 6-person sub-group of the Short Range Committee produced a final COBOL specification which was sent to the Short-Range Committee for its review. The COBOL language was partly based on the programming language FLOW-MATIC designed by Grace Hopper.

The final document, "COBOL - Specifications for a COmmon Business Oriented Language", was released in December 1959.

Related information:


  • Cobol for Beginners, by Christopher Danziger.
    Credit: The Centre for Computing History, item CH13210.





COBOL is introduced

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