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Background[ edit ] In the late s, computer users and manufacturers were becoming concerned about the rising cost of programming. At a time when new programming languages were proliferating at an ever-increasing rate, the same survey suggested that if a common business-oriented language were used, conversion would be far cheaper and faster.

Hawes , a computer scientist at Burroughs Corporation , called a meeting of representatives from academia, computer users, and manufacturers at the University of Pennsylvania to organize a formal meeting on common business languages.

The delegation impressed Charles A. Portable programs would save time, reduce costs and ease modernization. It was attended by 41 people and was chaired by Phillips. They agreed unanimously that more people should be able to program and that the new language should not be restricted by the limitations of contemporary technology.

A majority agreed that the language should make maximal use of English, be capable of change, be machine-independent and be easy to use, even at the expense of power. The short-range committee was given to September three months to produce specifications for an interim language, which would then be improved upon by the other committees.

Work began by investigating data description, statements, existing applications and user experiences. While some members thought the language had too many compromises and was the result of design by committee , others felt it was better than the three languages examined. Some felt the language was too complex; others, too simple. Such features included boolean expressions , formulas and table subscripts indices.

They fell short of expectations: Joseph Wegstein noted that "it contains rough spots and requires some additions", and Bob Bemer later described them as a "hodgepodge". The subcommittee was given until December to improve it.

Despite being technically superior, FACT had not been created with portability in mind or through manufacturer and user consensus. We shortened it and got rid of a lot of unnecessary notation. Sammet of Sylvania Electric Products. The sub-committee did most of the work creating the specification, leaving the short-range committee to review and modify their work before producing the finished specification.

Moreover, no responsibility is assumed by any contributor, or by the committee, in connection therewith. They have specifically authorized the use of this material, in whole or in part, in the COBOL specifications. Such authorization extends to the reproduction and use of COBOL specifications in programming manuals or similar publications. A US Navy evaluation found compilation speeds of 3—11 statements per minute.

By mid, they had increased to 11— statements per minute. This was then replaced by the COBOL Extended specifications in , which introduced the sort and report writer facilities. They described new versions in , , and , including changes such as new inter-program communication, debugging and file merging facilities as well as improved string-handling and library inclusion features. It was also poor, lacking the funds to make public documents, such as minutes of meetings and change proposals, freely available.

These made up 44 changes, which rendered existing statements incompatible with the new standard. The proposed standard commonly called COBOL differed significantly from the previous one, causing concerns about incompatibility and conversion costs.

In January , Joseph T. Brophy described previous conversions of their million-line code base as "non-productive" and a "complete waste of our programmer resources". Fewer than a dozen of the responses were in favor of the proposed standard.

In , the DPMA withdrew its opposition to the standard, citing the responsiveness of the committee to public concerns. In the same year, a National Bureau of Standards study concluded that the proposed standard would present few problems. It was published in late Nested subprograms.


COBOL Programming: Including MS-COBOL and COBOL-85 (Second Edition)

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