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COBOL is a high-level programming language very first developed by the CODASYL Committee (Conference on Data
Systems Languages) in early of 1960’s. Then it was assigned to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for
developing new COBOL standards.
There are three ANSI standards for COBOL have been developed in the respective years 1968, 1974 and 1985.
COBOL is stands for Common Business Oriented Language.
COBOL is designed for developing business, typically file-oriented, applications.
It is not designed for writing systems programs. For instance you would not develop an operating system or a
compiler using COBOL.
Some characteristics that contribute to COBOL's success
COBOL is self-documenting: One of the design goals for COBOL was to make it possible for non-programmers such
as supervisors, managers and users, to read and understand COBOL code.
COBOL is simple: COBOL is a simple language. no pointers, no user defined functions, no user defined types and
with a limited scope of function.
COBOL coding rules
On coding forms,
The first six character positions are reserved for sequence numbers.
The seventh character position is reserved for the continuation character, or for an asterisk that denotes a
The actual program text starts in column 8.
The four positions from 8 to 11 are known as Area A, and positions from 12 to 72 are Area B.
When a COBOL compiler recognizes the two areas, all division names, section names, paragraph names, FD
entries and 01 level numbers must start in Area A. All other sentences must start in Area B.
Different ways of writing cobol programs
Based on the usage, cobol programs can be divided into the below two types.