COBOL is a third-generation programming language, and one of
the oldest programming languages still in active use. Its name is an acronym,
for Common Business Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business,
finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The COBOL 2002 standard includes support for object-oriented programming and
other modern language features.
COBOL programs are in use globally in governmental and
military agencies, in commercial enterprises, and on operating systems such as
IBM's z/OS, Microsoft's Windows, and the Unix/Linux families. In the late 1990s,
the Gartner Group, a data-processing industry research organization, estimated
that of the 300 billion lines of computer code that existed, eighty percent — or
240 billion lines — were COBOL. They also reported that more than half of all
new mission-critical applications were still being created using COBOL — an
estimated 5,000,000,000 net new lines of COBOL code annually.
Near the end of the twentieth century the year 2000 problem was the focus of
significant COBOL programming effort, sometimes by the same programmers who had
designed the systems decades before. The particular level of effort required for
COBOL code has been attributed both to the large amount of business-oriented
COBOL, as COBOL is by design a business language and business applications use
dates heavily, and to constructs of the COBOL language such as the PICTURE
clause, which can be used to define fixed-length numeric fields, including
two-digit fields for years.
The aim of the ZingCOBOL is to give the basics
of the COBOL programming language for anyone who knows a little bit about
computers (not much) and preferably will at least have come across another
procedural progamming language such as C, BASIC or Pascal. If you want to learn
good structured programming then, although the basic COBOL syntax is provided
here, other sources can provide more effective guidance.
The floating SITE MENU button can be clicked to
bring up a temporary menu for navigating this site. If your browser doesn't
support this feature (or the popup window that results) there is a table of
contents at the bottom of every page to navigate with.
If you wish to find a specific item the
page should take
you to the desired section. This tutorial is by no means extensive but the
basics should be covered here.
What's written here will hopefully be correct
(tell me otherwise) and maybe even informative. However, I would strongly
recommend buying a good book on COBOL programming, and/or have someone teach you
If you have any queries, comments, or
suggestions you can either go to the
(all levels of ability are welcome), use the
Feedback form and/or sign the
I hope ZingCOBOL will prove useful to you.
COBOL - a brief overview
COBOL (COmmon Business Orientated
Language) has been around for yonks (since 1959), updated in 1968, 1977
and 1985. OO COBOL was developed in the 1990's. Well suited to business
applications, i.e. used for large batch processes running on mini-computer and
mainframes (medium to large platforms). About 65% of new critical applications
use COBOL; several billion lines of COBOL code exist throughout the world, used
by over a million companies. So it may be old but it remains one of the most
important languages in commercial use today. (source: Computer
Weekly, Dec 9th, 1999).
What you'll need
The best way to learn to programme/learn a new
language is to actually be able to write code and run it on a computer.
Consequently, you really need a computer (probably a PC), a text editor (Notepad
or WordPad will do) to write the code into, and most importantly, a COBOL
compiler which will check your code and then convert it into something the
computer can understand and execute. I use the Fujitsu COBOL85 ver3.0 compiler
which can be downloaded for free.