Updated at 2017-12-20 23:39

COBOL is over 50 years old programming language. Originally created by the US Department of Defense as a portable language that could be ran on many different machines.

COBOL is a well established language. The most recent update was COBOL 2014 specification. It would commonly be a mammoth task to rewrite something done in COBOL.

It's an easy language for non-programmers to write. Especially if you are doing text and transaction processing.

IBM is the main provider of COBOL specialized hardware. And they are not going to let that revenue stream dry out.

COBOL programmers get the best salaries among programmers. But also they are the least amount of positions available so you have to be pretty darn competent to get a position.

COBOL is usually a commercially licensed programming language. But some open source implementations do exist e.g. GnuCOBOL/OpenCOBOL.

apt-get install open-cobol
cobc -free -x -o test test.cbl

Notes about the language itself.

  • COBOL code files end in .cbl
  • All keywords and names are written in UPPER-CASE
  • Line end symbol is a full stop .
  • Programs are split into DIVISIONs
  • You need to define variables in the DATA division