cobolCOBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) was one of the earliest high-level programming languages. It was developed in 1959 by a group of computer professionals called the Short Range Commitee, a group formed by a Pentagon meeting to find a short range solution to a common business language. There were other committees as well, and experts from many computer companies such as IBM , Honeywell, RCA, and Sylvania made up each group.

Eventually a sub-committee of the Short Range group composed of William Selden and Gertrude Tierney from IBM, Howard Bromberg and Howard Discount of RCA, and Vernon Reeves and Jean E. Sammet of Sylvania Electric Products created the original COBOL specification near the end of 1959. They were influenced and inspired by Grace Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language and IBM’s COMTRAN. The specifications were published in January 1960 as COBOL 60 and the language itself developed about six months later.

Many COBOL based applications are still in use today. In 1990 the Gartner Group estimated 80% of existing computer code was COBOL.

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