COBOL as a Modern Language

Charles Kiefer, University of North Georgia


The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offence. – Edsger Dijkstra 1

This statement may be hyperbole, but Dijkstra’s view on the language reflects underlying feelings about COBOL throughout the programming world. The language was created in 1959 to allow for interactivity between computation machines. 2 More than half a century later, COBOL is still used extensively in mainframes, computers designed for large-scale calculation and record processing. Numerous factors have contributed to the longevity of COBOL, including ease of use compared to its contemporaries and an upgrade to object orientation in the 1990s. 3