COBOL: From Its Origins to the Modern Day – Everything You Need to Know


If you’re into programming, chances are you’ve heard of COBOL – the language that’s been a staple in the business and financial sectors for decades. In this post, we’ll explore the history of COBOL, its key applications, and even throw in some code examples to better understand how this language has stood the test of time.

A Brief History of COBOL

COBOL, or Common Business-Oriented Language, was developed in 1959 as the first programming language geared towards business needs. Its creation aimed at making a universal language that would be understandable for those without a technical background, allowing for its widespread adoption across industries.

The Applications of COBOL

Despite often being viewed as a relic of the past, COBOL is far from obsolete. Banks, government agencies, and insurance companies still rely on COBOL systems for their stability, reliability, and security. It’s estimated that 70% of business transactions are processed in COBOL, showcasing its enduring relevance.

Code Examples

What better way to get acquainted with COBOL than through code? Let’s start with the quintessential “Hello, World!” program to get a feel for COBOL’s syntax and programming approach.


This simple program illustrates COBOL’s straightforward nature, designed to be readable and accessible. The structure reflects COBOL’s business-oriented roots, focusing on clarity and simplicity.

Why COBOL Still Matters

One might wonder why a language created over six decades ago remains in use. The answer lies in its reliability and the immense volume of legacy code that powers critical systems worldwide. Updating these systems to newer languages is not only costly but also risky, making COBOL an enduring necessity.

Learning COBOL Today

For those interested in exploring COBOL, numerous resources are available. From online tutorials to community forums, the language’s presence in modern programming education ensures that anyone can learn its nuances and contribute to its legacy.


COBOL’s journey from a groundbreaking business language to a cornerstone of modern computing is a testament to its design and functionality. As we’ve seen, it plays a crucial role in the backbone of today’s digital world, proving that old dogs like COBOL can learn new tricks, or rather, teach them to the next generation of programmers.

By exploring COBOL’s history, applications, and dipping our toes into its code, we gain a deeper appreciation for this enduring language. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting, understanding COBOL offers valuable insights into the evolution of programming and the ongoing need for languages that bridge the gap between past and future technology.

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