COmmon Business Oriented Language

Also found in: Acronyms.

COmmon Business Oriented Language

(language, business)
/koh'bol/ (COBOL) A programming language for simple computations on large amounts of data, designed by the CODASYL Committee in April 1960. COBOL's natural language style is intended to be largely self-documenting. It introduced the record structure.

COBOL was probably the most widely used programming language during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the major programs that required repair or replacement due to Year 2000 software rot issues were originally written in COBOL, and this was responsible for a short-lived increased demand for COBOL programmers. Even in 2002 though, new COBOL programs are still being written in some organisations and many old COBOL programs are still running in dinosaur shops.

Major revisions in 1968 (ANS X3.23-1968), 1974 (ANS X3.23-1974) and 1985.

Usenet newsgroup: news:comp.lang.cobol.

["Initial Specifications for a Common Business Oriented Language" DoD, US GPO, Apr 1960].
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (
References in periodicals archive ?
Some history is in order: The IT shop probably started life on the mainframe, using esoteric formats and languages such as VSAM (Virtual Storage Access Method), QSAM (Queued Sequential Access Method) and COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language).
Variations in the compilers that the Federal government acquired for the Common Business oriented Language (COBOL) programming language led to the need for better quality control, and to NBS activities to develop conformance tests for programming languages.