COBOL at 65: still a powerhouse in the tech industry

COBOL at 65: still a powerhouse in the tech industry

"COBOL Powerhouse"

Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL), the brainchild of revered computer scientist Grace Hopper, recently celebrated its 65th birthday and is holding fast as a key component of many US governmental bodies, corporations, and financial firms. Built to withstand time with its robustness and simplicity, COBOL remains pivotal as an often unseen and unheralded workhorse in computing. Despite the popularity of newer languages like Python, Java, and C++, COBOL’s lasting presence underlines its continued significance in the industry.

Despite functioning in an era marked by rapid technological evolutions, COBOL’s legacy isn’t confined to its longevity. It is foundational to the systems millions count on daily. Despite its age and absence in most modern university curricula, as freelance technology journalist Glenn Fleishman points out, the demand for COBOL developers remains steady. Organizations, especially within financial and governmental agencies, still count on its stability and efficiency.

COBOL’s enduring impact in technology

They value it for its resilience, relevance, and reliability, which keeps it central to legacy systems.

As the first programming language to boast general understandability, COBOL played a crucial role in bridging the gap between business logic and programming. To ensure success, COBOL allowed an easier and more accessible way for businesses to handle comprehensive data processing and management. It removed the enigma from programming, making it logical to business experts and helping its integration into real-world industry practice.

Replacing COBOL within our systems is equivalent to the removal of the roots of a mature tree – a move that could lead to extensive changes in systems. The costs involved in migrating from COBOL, often stretching into the millions or billions, coupled with its complex nature, make system updates a tremendous undertaking. Thus, despite seeming outdated, its embedment across various business infrastructures still stands due to these formidable migration hurdles.

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About 70% of business transactions involve COBOL, a fact that’s only gained more traction during the global COVID-19 pandemic, especially in managing a surge in unemployment claims. Its simplicity and transparency render it as an indispensable tool, handling millions or trillions of transactions annually. Despite advances in modern programming languages, COBOL remains the gold standard in computing due to its ability to effectively handle vast data volumes and its unique readability, allowing even non-programmers to grasp the language quickly.


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