COBOL @ 50

Seems I missed a significant event earlier this month or year. The first major COBOL development environment turned 50 years old on Sept 18. And earlier in May was the 50th anniversary of the US DOD meeting that got COBOL started, so that could have been the birthday too.

From CIO Magazine:

“The statistics that surround COBOL attest to its huge influence upon the business world. There are over 220 billion lines of COBOL in existence, a figure which equates to around 80% of the world’s actively used code. There are estimated to be over a million COBOL programmers in the world today. Most impressive perhaps, is that 200 times as many COBOL transactions take place each day than Google searches – a figure which puts the influence of Web 2.0 into stark perspective.”

One metric says it costs about $25 to re-write a line of COBOL. With 220 billion lines, think of the staggering cost to replace it.

Yet I’ve only met one COBOL programmer in my whole career. I’ve never written a line of it, not even in school 25 years ago.

The language that is everywhere and nowhere at once, to borrow another line from CIO magazine.

Surprising isn’t it.

Now, I did write a LOT of Pascal in school, back then we thought Pascal and its ilk would be the next big thing. Instead it has largely disappeared.


One Response to COBOL @ 50

  1. dbametrix says:


    Very good article.

    Thanks and regards,

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