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In 1959, COBOL was commissioned by the American DoD (Department of Defense), developed by, among others, Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper as a standard language for business applications that could retrieve, process and store large amounts of data accurately and efficiently. It had to be a language that was easy to read, write and maintain in comparison with the usual languages at that time. The first version of COBOL dates back to 1960.

  COBOL Expertise needed?

The owner of this website has been working with the COBOL programming language since 1996 and can be used as:

- Functional designer;

- Technical designer;

- Tester;

- Developer.

Currently the owner has an ongoing contract until 1 March 2018.

Click here for the profile of the owner or look under the Expertise tab.

There is a VUR present, so that a client is protected from any additional charges by the tax authorities. Click here for more information about the VUR or look under the VUR tab.


Grace Murray Hopper


The home base of COBOL is the IBM mainframe, but today COBOL also runs on Windows and Unix.


Versions and variations of COBOL

COBOL seems to be one language, but appearances are deceptive. Besides the different versions of this programming language, there are many different dialects. Many attempts to standardize this language have therefore failed. Many dialects (deviations or extensions) have arisen to make optimal use of the environment in which they operate (operating system) or the specific hardware used.


The International Commission for Information Technology Standards (Incits) raised a new version of the COBOL programming language to an official standard in 2002. After COBOL '68, COBOL '74, COBOL '85, the expansion of COBOL '85 in 1989, it is the turn of ISO COBOL 2002. The American organization thus approved improved and entirely new elements in the language. This includes options for object oriented programming, Boolean data typing, file sharing and document locking. Oracle, Microsoft, HP, IBM and SUN are members of Incits.



In articles about COBOL we sometimes talk about a 2CV, with or without a 40+ behind the wheel. COBOL has an old-fashioned image among many ICT people, because many COBOL programs are decades old.

In those years, all kinds of code was added. Since COBOL runs on highly complex critical business processes, it has already been decided to go for certainty, so that an extra hump was included in the coding. The readability and thus the maintenance was or becomes increasingly difficult, some of them also skeptically described as spaghetti programs. This problem is not inherent to COBOL, but will occur with every development language that lasts for decades.

The millennium problem was in part ascribed to the development language COBOL. However, storage was very expensive in the past. The choice was made not to include the century in the date and to use compressed fields, which take up about half of the normal storage. It was also assumed at the time that COBOL in the year 2000 would have been replaced by something else.

Many critical processes at banks, insurers and government agencies still run on COBOL. COBOL is efficient, stable, fast and readable. It is not a difficult language to learn, but the environment in which COBOL operates can be very complex. Even though COBOL has an old-fashioned image, the complex environment in which it operates makes it very challenging again.