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Follow the link for more information. Jump to navigation Jump to search This article is about the compiled programming language. English-like computer programming language designed for business use. COBOL statements have an English-like syntax, which was designed to be self-documenting and highly readable.
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However, it is verbose and uses over 300 reserved words. Lacking a large standard library, the standard specifies 43 statements, 87 functions and just one class. It has been suggested that this section be split out into another article titled History of COBOL. In the late 1950s, computer users and manufacturers were becoming concerned about the rising cost of programming.
Hawes, a computer scientist at Burroughs Corporation, called a meeting of representatives from academia, computer users, and manufacturers at the University of Pennsylvania to organize a formal meeting on common business languages. Phillips, director of the Data System Research Staff at the DoD, who thought that they “thoroughly understood” the DoD’s problems. Phillips agreed to sponsor the meeting and tasked the delegation with drafting the agenda. Pentagon to discuss the creation of a common programming language for business. It was attended by 41 people and was chaired by Phillips. The Department of Defense was concerned about whether it could run the same data processing programs on different computers. Representatives enthusiastically described a language that could work in a wide variety of environments, from banking and insurance to utilities and inventory control.
They agreed unanimously that more people should be able to program and that the new language should not be restricted by the limitations of contemporary technology. The meeting resulted in the creation of a steering committee and short-, intermediate- and long-range committees. The steering committee met on June 4 and agreed to name the entire activity as the Committee on Data Systems Languages, or CODASYL, and to form an executive committee. The short-range committee was made up of members representing six computer manufacturers and three government agencies. The committee mainly examined the FLOW-MATIC, AIMACO and COMTRAN programming languages. IBM’s COMTRAN language, invented by Bob Bemer, was regarded as a competitor to FLOW-MATIC by a short-range committee made up of colleagues of Grace Hopper. The usefulness of the committee’s work was subject of great debate.
While some members thought the language had too many compromises and was the result of design by committee, others felt it was better than the three languages examined. The specifications were presented to the Executive Committee on September 4. They fell short of expectations: Joseph Wegstein noted that “it contains rough spots and requires some additions”, and Bob Bemer later described them as a “hodgepodge”. The subcommittee was given until December to improve it. At a mid-September meeting, the committee discussed the new language’s name. The name “COBOL” was suggested by Bob Bemer. In October, the intermediate-range committee received copies of the FACT language specification created by Roy Nutt.
Its features impressed the committee so much that they passed a resolution to base COBOL on it. And what name do you want inscribed? I said, ‘I’ll write it for you. I wrote the name down: COBOL. What kind of name is that?
We shortened it and got rid of a lot of unnecessary notation. It soon became apparent that the committee was too large for any further progress to be made quickly. 15 tombstone with “COBOL” engraved on it and sent it to Charles Phillips to demonstrate his displeasure. The sub-committee did most of the work creating the specification, leaving the short-range committee to review and modify their work before producing the finished specification.