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maw

on Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:31 pm

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maw



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COBOL
is one of the oldest programming languages. Its name is an acronym for
COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in
business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and
governments.
The COBOL 2002 standard includes support for object-oriented programming and other modern language features.

The COBOL specification was created by a committee of researchers from
private industry, universities, and government during the second half of
1959. The specifications were to a great extent inspired by the
FLOW-MATIC language invented by Grace Hopper - commonly referred to as
"the mother of the COBOL language." The IBM COMTRAN language invented by
Bob Bemer was also drawn upon, but the FACT language specification from
Honeywell was not distributed to committee members until late in the
process and had relatively little impact. FLOW-MATIC's status as the
only language of the bunch to have actually been implemented made it
particularly attractive to the committee.
The scene was set on April 8, 1959 at a meeting of computer
manufacturers, users, and university people at the University of
Pennsylvania Computing Center. The United States Department of Defense
subsequently agreed to sponsor and oversee the next activities. A
meeting chaired by Charles A. Phillips was held at the Pentagon on May
28 and 29 of 1959 (exactly one year after the Zürich ALGOL 58 meeting);
there it was decided to set up three committees: short, intermediate and
long range (the last one was never actually formed). It was the Short
Range Committee, chaired by Joseph Wegstein of the US National Bureau of
Standards, that during the following months created a description of
the first version of COBOL. The committee was formed to recommend a
short range approach to a common business language. The committee was
made up of members representing six computer manufacturers and three
government agencies. The six computer manufacturers were Burroughs
Corporation, IBM, Minneapolis-Honeywell (Honeywell Labs), RCA, Sperry
Rand, and Sylvania Electric Products. The three government agencies were
the US Air Force, the Navy's David Taylor Model Basin, and the National
Bureau of Standards (now National Institute of Standards and
Technology). The intermediate-range committee was formed but never
became operational. In the end a sub-committee of the Short Range
Committee developed the specifications of the COBOL language. This
sub-committee was made up of six individuals:
William Selden and Gertrude Tierney of IBM
Howard Bromberg and Howard Discount of RCA
Vernon Reeves and Jean E. Sammet of Sylvania Electric Products
The decision to use the name "COBOL" was made at a meeting of the
committee held on 18 September 1959. The subcommittee completed the
specifications for COBOL in December 1959.
The first compilers for COBOL were subsequently implemented in 1960, and
on December 6 and 7, essentially the same COBOL program ran on two
different computer makes, an RCA computer and a Remington-Rand Univac
computer, demonstrating that compatibility could be achieved.


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