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What is COBOL?

COBOL which is the acronym for Common Business-Oriented Language is an English-like compiled computer programming language that was designed for use in organizations and businesses. It is procedural, imperative, and, since 2002, an object-oriented software development language. COBOL was basically used in finance, business, and administrative systems for organizations, companies, and governments.

COBOL is still used widely in legacy software that is deployed on mainframe computers, such as for large-scale batch and transaction processing projects. But due to the downward and declining popularity together with the retirement of experienced COBOL developers, COBOL programs are being migrated to more recent platforms, rewritten in recent, high-level languages or simply replaced with software packages. Most development in COBOL is now primarily just to manage and maintain already existing applications.

COBOL was developed in 1959 by the team at CODASYL and it was initially and partially based on the preceding computer programming language design work by Grace Hopper, regularly referred to as "the (grand)mother of COBOL". COBOL was developed as part of an effort of the US Department of Defense to create a portable computer programming language for data analysis and processing. It was primarily seen as a stopgap, but the Department of Defense instantaneously, forced computer manufacturing firms to provide it, accounting for its widespread adoption.

COBOL was standardized in 1968 and has since been revised 4 times. Expansions to the language include support for both structured and object-oriented programming concepts. The current standard of COBOL is ISO/IEC 1989:2014.

COBOL statements are you written in an English-like syntax, which was developed to be both self-documenting and highly readable. Instead, it is verbose and has an array of over 300 reserved words. In contrast with recent, succinct syntax, COBOL has a more English-like syntax.

COBOL code is divided into four divisions which are: environment, identification, data, and procedure which contains a rigid hierarchy of sections, sentences, and paragraphs. Lacking in the areas of a large standard library, the current standard specifies 43 statements, 87 functions, and just one class.

Academic computer scientists were generally not interested in business applications when COBOL was developed and was not involved in its design. It was designed effectively from the ground up as a computer language for business, with a huge emphasis on the inputs and outputs, whose only data types are just numbers and strings of text.

COBOL has been underrated throughout its life, for its verbose, design process, and poor support for structured programming concepts. These weaknesses brought about a monolithic and, though designed to be English-like, not easily understandable and verbose programs.

Evolution of COBOL: 

In the era of the 1950s, when the businesses began increasing in the west side of the world, A need to automate various processes for ease of operation grew and this gave rise to a high-level programming language meant for business data processing.

1. In 1959, COBOL was developed by CODASYL (Conference on Data Systems Language).

2. The next version, COBOL-61, was released in 1961 with some revisions.

3. In 1968, COBOL was approved by ANSI as a standard language for commercial use (COBOL-68).

4. It was again revised in 1974 and 1985 to develop subsequent versions named COBOL-74 and COBOL-85 respectively.

5. In 2002, Object-Oriented COBOL was released, which could use encapsulated objects as a normal part of COBOL programming.

Importance of COBOL: 

1. COBOL was the first widely used high-level programming language. It has an English-like language that is very user-friendly. All of the program can be coded in simple English words.

2. COBOL is also used as a self-documenting language.

3. COBOL can handle huge data processing.

4. COBOL is compatible with its previous versions.

5. COBOL has effective error messages and so, the resolution of bugs is easier.

Features of COBOL: 

Below are some of the features of COBOL.

1. COBOL has a clearly defined syntax.

2. COBOL has a Metalanguage.

3. COBOL has a nice and highly structured code format.

4. Identification division

5. COBOL has support for object-oriented programming concepts.

6. COBOL has an environment division.

Benefits Of COBOL: 

There are lots of benefits and advantages of COBOL, and some of them are:

1. COBOL is self-documented and easy to understand/read.

2. COBOL is able to handle large volumes of data easily.

3. COBOL is easy to use for the development and maintenance of business applications, that are portable across platforms without recompilation.

4. COBOL programs are robust.

5. COBOL can provide various employment opportunities for people that know it.

 

Character Set in COBOL

'Characters' are the lowest in the family tree and they cannot be further divided. The COBOL Character Set consitst 78 characters which are shown below −

Sr.No. Character & Description
1

A-Z

Alphabets(Upper Case)

2

a-z

Alphabets (Lower Case)

3

0-9

Numeric

4

 

Space

5

+

Plus Sign

6

-

Minus Sign or Hyphen

7

*

Asterisk

8

/

Forward Slash

9

$

Currency Sign

10

,

Comma

11

;

Semicolon

12

.

Decimal Point or Period

13

"

Quotation Marks

14

(

Left Parenthesis

15

)

Right Parenthesis

16

>

Greater than

17

<

Less than

18

:

Colon

19

'

Apostrophe

20

=

Equal Sign

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