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COBOL Tutorial

COBOL Tutorial

COBOL is a Common Bussiness Oriented Language. It is a high level programming language. COBOL is used by the US Department of Defense, in a conference, formed CODASYL (Conference on Data Systems Language) to develop a language. COBOL is used for writing application programs, and we can't use it to write system software.

COBOL - Introduction

COBOL is a Common Business Oriented Language. It is a high-level programming language. As the expanded acronym suggests, COBOL is designed for developing business, typically file-oriented applications.

COBOL is used by the US Department of Defense, in a conference, formed CODASYL (Conference on Data Systems Language) to develop a language. COBOL is used for writing application programs, and we can't use it to write system software. This means you would not develop an operating system or a compiler using COBOL.

How COBOL Works

We must understand the way COBOL works. Computers only know machine code, a binary stream of 0s and 1s. The code of COBOL must be converted into machine code using a compiler. Run the program source through the compiler. The compiler first of all checks for any syntax errors and then converts it into machine language. Then the compiler creates an output file, which is known as a load module. This output file contains executable code in the form of 1s and 0s.

History of COBOL

COBOL language was one of the earliest high-level programming languages. During the 1950s, when the businesses were rising in the western part of the world, there was a need to automate various processes for ease of operation, and this gave birth to a high-level programming language destined for business data processing.

  • In 1959, the COBOL language was developed by Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL).
  • The government printing office printed the COBOL specification as COBOL60 in 1960.
  • COBOL-61, which is the next version of COBOL, was released in 1961 with some revisions.
  • In 1968, COBOL was approved by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) as a standard language for commercial use. A version named COBOL-68.
  • It was again revised in 1974 and 1985 to develop subsequent versions that contain an additional set of features named COBOL-74 and COBOL-85, respectively.
  • And finally, in 2002, object-oriented COBOL was released, which could use encapsulated objects as a normal part of COBOL programming.

Features of COBOL

Standard Language

COBOL is a standard language that can be compiled and executed on systems such as IBM AS/400, personal computers, etc.

Business Oriented

COBOL is developed for business-oriented applications related to defense domain, financial domain, etc.

Structured Language

Logical control structures are offered in COBOL, which makes it easier to read and modify. COBOL provides different divisions, so it is easy to debug.

Robust Language

COBOL is a robust language as its numerous testing, and debugging tools are available for almost all computer platforms.

Simple Language

COBOL is a simple language. No user-defined functions, no user-defined types, no pointers, and a limited scope of function.


One of the major design goals for COBOL was to make it possible for non-programmers such as managers, supervisors, and users to read and understand COBOL code.

Advantages of COBOL

  • COBOL is the first generally used high-level programming language.
  • It can handle huge data processing.
  • It is used as a documenting language.
  • The resolution of bugs is easier because it has an effective error message.
  • It is compatible with its past versions.


Before proceeding with this tutorial, you should have a basic knowledge of computer programming terminologies and JCL. A basic knowledge of any of the programming languages will help you get the concepts of COBOL programming and move fast on the learning track.


This tutorial is created for software programmers who would like to learn the basics of COBOL. This tutorial will provide enough understanding of COBOL programming language from where you can take yourself to a higher level of expertise.


We assure you that you will not find any difficulty while learning our COBOL tutorial. But if there is any mistake in this tutorial, kindly post the problem or error in the contact form so that we can improve it.

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