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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Happy Birthday COBOL! 50 Years Old and Still Kicking Butt

May 27, 2009

 Could it be? COBOL is 50 years old? That's right. It's been 50 years since May 28, 1959, when  the first meeting of the committee that would develop the COBOL language convened. Since then, according to estimates, 60-80 percent of the world's enterprises still rely on COBOL to run their business. There are over 200 billion lines of COBOL currently in operation globally across every industry, and the language supports over 30 billion transactions per day.

 And even though, according to a recent survey by Micro Focus , the average American relies on the programming language COBOL at least 13 times per day for routine activities such as placing phone calls, using a credit or debit card, and commuting to and from work, only one in four survey respondents (23 percent) have heard of COBOL or know what it is. 

The survey, commissioned by Micro Focus and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that respondents use their cell phones, ATM and credit cards, or travel by train on average 90 times per week. COBOL is the programming language that all of these daily transactions are originally based on, yet 77 percent of the survey respondents had never heard of the programming language that is essential for many of their day-to-day activities.

"COBOL is one American icon that has truly stood the test of time, and we believe that it will be around for another 50 years running the core transactions that we all rely on to go about our daily lives," said Ken Powell of Micro Focus. "To understand COBOL's impact, you need only to imagine a day without it. It would impact every aspect of our lives -- from traffic signals, cash registers and cell phones to online travel reservations. Put simply, we’d struggle to function without COBOL."

To commemorate COBOL's 50th birthday, Micro Focus has launched a Web site at www.cobol.com  that features  videos, photos, and fun COBOL facts.

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