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Paradigm(s) procedural, imperative, object-oriented
Designed by Grace Hopper, William Selden, Gertrude Tierney, Howard Bromberg, Howard Discount, Vernon Reeves, Jean E. Sammet
Appeared in 1959 (1959)
Stable release ISO/IEC 1989:2002 / 2002
Typing discipline strong, static
Major implementations GNU Cobol, Micro Focus International (e.g. the Eclipse-plug-in Micro Focus Net Express)
Influenced PL/I, CobolScript, ABAP

COBOL /ˈkbɒl/ is one of the oldest programming languages, designed in 1959 by the Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) and largely based on previous programming language design work by Grace Hopper. The name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments.

International standards have been issued for COBOL roughly every decade since its inception. The latest COBOL 2002 standard includes support for object-oriented programming and other modern language features.[1]

History and specification[edit]

COBOL (original)[edit]

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) to discuss creating a common programming language for business. The objective was to allow efficient, portable programs to be easily written and which would allow users to move to new systems, modify programs with minimal effort and cost, and be suitable for inexperienced programmers. It was decided to set up three committees: short, intermediate and long range (the last one was never actually formed). These eventually merged to form CODASYL.[2](1.1)

It was the Short Range Committee, chaired by Joseph Wegstein of the US National Bureau of Standards, that created a description of the first version of COBOL in the following months.[3] The committee was formed to immediately develop a language which would take the best parts of FLOW-MATIC, AIMACO, and COMTRAN while being superior to them all.[2](1.2) The specifications were to a great extent inspired by the FLOW-MATIC language invented by Grace Hopper,[4]:10–11[5] 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.[6]

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).[2](2.1.1) 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:[7]

The decision to use the name "COBOL" was made at a meeting of the committee held on 18 September 1959.[citation needed] The subcommittee completed the specifications for COBOL in December 1959.[2](2.1)

The specifications approved by the full Short Range Committee were approved by the Executive Committee on January 3, 1960, and sent to the government printing office, which edited and printed these specifications as COBOL 60. It contained many desirable features already implemented in other languages. The CODASYL Executive Committee later created the COBOL Maintenance Committee to answer questions from users and vendors and to improve and expand the specifications where appropriate.[8]:47

The first compilers for COBOL were subsequently implemented later that year, 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.[5]

ANS COBOL 1968[edit]

The COBOL 60 specification was replaced in 1961 with the publication of COBOL-61. This was also replaced by the COBOL-61 Extended specifications in 1963 which introduced the sort and report writer facilities.[8]:48 In an attempt to overcome the problem of incompatibility between different versions of COBOL, efforts began to standardise COBOL. In late 1962, both ISO and the United States of America Standards Institute (now ANSI) formed groups to create standards. ANSI produced USA Standard COBOL X3.23 in August 1968 which became the cornerstone for further versions.[2](2.3) This version was known as American National Standard (ANS) COBOL.

COBOL 1974[edit]

In 1974, ANSI published a revised version of (ANS) COBOL, containing new features such as file organizations, the report writer module and the segmentation module.[9] Several features were deleted from the standard, including the NOTE statement, the EXAMINE statement (which was replaced by INSPECT) and the implementer-defined random access module (which was superseded by the new sequential and relative I/O modules). The DELETE verb was also added.[10] These made up 44 changes which rendered existing statements incompatible with the new standard.[11]

COBOL 1985[edit]

In 1985, ANSI published a revised version of the 1974 standard. 60 features were changed or deprecated and many[quantify] were added, such as:[3]:150[12]

  • scope terminators (END-IF, END-PERFORM, END-READ, etc.)
  • nested subprograms
  • the CONTINUE statement
  • the EVALUATE statement
  • the INITIALIZE statement
  • reference modification
  • the >= and <= operators

The 1985 standards and its amendments were adopted by ISO who subsequently took primary ownership and development of the standard. Two amendments followed in 1989 and 1993, the first introducing intrinsic functions and the other providing corrections.

COBOL 2002 and object-oriented COBOL[edit]

The language continues to evolve. In the early 1990s it was decided to add object-orientation in the next full revision of COBOL. Object-orientated features were taken from C++ and Smalltalk.[13] The initial estimate was to have this revision completed by 1997 and an ISO CD (Committee Draft) was available by 1997. Some vendors (including Micro Focus, Fujitsu, Veryant, and IBM) introduced object-oriented syntax based on the 1997 or other drafts of the full revision. The final approved ISO standard (adopted as an ANSI standard by INCITS) was approved and made available in 2002.

Fujitsu/GTSoftware,[14] Micro Focus and RainCode currently support object-oriented COBOL compilers targeting the .NET Framework.

COBOL 2002 included many other features beyond object-orientation. These included (but are not limited to):

  • National language support (including but not limited to Unicode support)
  • Locale-based processing
  • User-defined functions
  • CALL (and function) prototypes (for compile-time parameter checking)
  • Pointers and syntax for getting and freeing storage
  • Calling conventions to and from non-COBOL languages such as C
  • Support for execution within framework environments such as Microsoft's .NET and Java (including COBOL instantiated as Enterprise JavaBeans)
  • Bit and Boolean support
  • "True" binary support (up until this enhancement, binary items were truncated based on the (base-10) specification within the Data Division)
  • Floating-point support
  • Standard (or portable) arithmetic results

COBOL 20XX[edit]

The standard to supersede COBOL 2002 is under publication as of 2014.[15] It includes the following changes:[16](Annex E)

  • ARITHMETIC IS STANDARD has been replaced by IEEE 754 data types
  • Many major features have been made optional, such as object-orientation, the VALIDATE facility, the report writer and the screen-handling facility.
  • Method overloading
  • Dynamic capacity tables


COBOL programs are in use globally in governmental and military agencies and in commercial enterprises, and are running on operating systems such as IBM's z/OS and z/VSE, the POSIX families (Unix/Linux etc.), and Microsoft's Windows as well as ICL's VME operating system and Unisys' OS 2200. In 1997, the Gartner Group reported that 80% of the world's business ran on COBOL with over 200 billion lines of code in existence and with an estimated 5 billion lines of new code annually.[17]

Near the end of the twentieth century, the year 2000 problem (Y2K) was the focus of significant COBOL programming effort, sometimes by the same programmers who had designed the systems decades before. The particular level of effort required for COBOL code has been attributed[by whom?] both to the large amount of business-oriented COBOL, as COBOL is by design a business language and business applications use dates heavily, and to constructs of the COBOL language such as the PICTURE clause, which can be used to define fixed-length numeric fields, including two-digit fields for years. After the clean-up effort put into these COBOL programs for Y2K, a 2003 survey found that many of them remained in use.[18]:16 The authors said that the survey data reflect "a gradual decline in the importance of Cobol in application development over the [following] 10 years unless ... integration with other languages and technologies can be adopted".[18]:10


COBOL as defined in the original specification included a PICTURE clause for detailed field specification. It did not support local variables, recursion, dynamic memory allocation, or independent subprograms. [19] Support for some or all of these features has been added in later editions of the COBOL standard. Standard COBOL has over 300 reserved words,[16](8.9) called keywords. However, compiler extensions mean many implementations have far more, with one implementation recognizing over 1,100 keywords.[20]

Self-modifying code[edit]

The original COBOL specification supported the infamous "ALTER X TO PROCEED TO Y" statement, for which many compilers generated self-modifying code. X and Y are paragraph labels, and any "GO TO X" statements executed after such an ALTER statement have the meaning "GO TO Y" instead. Many compilers still support it,[21] but it was deemed obsolete in the COBOL 1985 standard[22] and should not be used in new programs. The use of ALTER has been banned altogether for some time by many software companies as part of their programming practices.

Syntactic features[edit]

COBOL provides an update-in-place syntax, for example

           ADD YEARS TO AGE

The equivalent construct in many procedural languages is

age = age + years

This syntax is similar to the compound assignment operator later adopted by C:

age += years

The abbreviated conditional expression


is equivalent to

           IF SALARY > 9000
               OR SALARY = PREV-SALARY

COBOL provides "named conditions" (so-called 88-levels). These are declared as sub-items of another item (the conditional variable). The named condition can be used in an IF statement, and tests whether the conditional variable is equal to any of the values given in the named condition's VALUE clause. The SET statement can be used to make a named condition TRUE (by assigning the first of its values to the conditional variable).

COBOL allows identifiers up to 30 characters long. When COBOL was introduced, much shorter name lengths (e.g., 6 characters for FORTRAN) were prevalent.

COBOL introduced the concept of copybooks—chunks of code that can be inserted into a larger program. COBOL does this with the COPY statement, which also allows other code to replace parts of the copybook's code (using the REPLACING ... BY ... clause).

Code format[edit]

Fixed-format code is the default code format. Up to COBOL-85, fixed-format code was split into 5 areas:

Name Column(s) Usage
Sequence number area 1–6 Originally used for card/line numbers, this area was ignored by the compiler.
Indicator area 7 The following characters could go here:
  • * – a comment line
  • / – a comment line which would be printed on a new page of a source listing
  • - – a continuation line where words ending at the end of Area B could be continued
  • D – a line used for debugging, which is otherwise ignored
Area A 8–11 The following had to begin here: DIVISION, SECTION and procedure headers, 01 and 77 level numbers and FD and SD record descriptors.
Area B 12–72 Any other code not allowed in Area A.
Program name area 73– Historically up to column 80 for punched cards, it was used to identify the program the card belonged to.

In COBOL 2002, Areas A and B were merged and their size was left to the implementer.

Free-format code was introduced in COBOL 2002. It allows code to be placed in any column of the file much like newer languages such as C and Pascal. The * comment indicator was replaced by *> which could be placed anywhere in the program and be used in fixed-format source code. However, no equivalent to the / was introduced and continuation is now only allowed for string literals.[23](1.6)

Data levels[edit]

Data items in COBOL are declared in a hierarchical manner through the use of data levels. An item with a higher data level is subordinate to a data item with a lower one. Data items which are not subordinate to another item are called records. Items that have no data subordinate to it are called elementary items while those that do are called group items.[23](5.2)

       01  some-record.
           03  num            PIC 9(10).
           03  the-date.
               05  the-year   PIC 9(4).
               05  the-month  PIC 99.
               05  the-day    PIC 99.

In the above example, num and the-date are subordinate to the record some-record while the-year, the-month and the-day are part of the group item the-date.

Level-numbers are 1- or 2-digit numbers which indicate the data level. Not all of them may be used to describe ordinary data items:[4]:40–41

Level-number Meaning
0149 Used to describe data fields.
66 Indicates a regrouping of previously defined items. Used with the RENAMES clause.
77 Indicates elementary items that are not part of a group. Equivalent to a stand-alone 01 data item.
78 An extension that indicates that items are compile-time constants.
88 Used for condition names.

Data types[edit]

Standard COBOL provides the following data types:[16]:118

Data type Sample declaration Notes
Alphabetic PIC A(30) May only contain letters or spaces
Alphanumeric PIC X(30) May contain any characters
Boolean PIC 1 USAGE BIT Data stored in the form of 0s and 1s, as a binary number
Index USAGE INDEX Used to reference table elements
National PIC N(30) Similar to alphanumeric, but using an extended character set, e.g. UTF-8
Numeric PIC 9(5)V9(5) May contain only numbers
Object USAGE OBJECT REFERENCE May reference either an object or be NULL


Numeric data can be stored in several formats:[16](

  • Binary, where data is stored in a binary format with a minimum size specified by the PICTURE clause with USAGE BINARY, or by a USAGE clause such as BINARY-LONG.
  • USAGE COMPUTATIONAL, where data may be stored in whatever format the implementation provides; often equivalent to  USAGE BINARY
  • USAGE DISPLAY, the default format, where data is stored as a string
  • Floating-point, where data is stored in a floating-point format which can be specified by the implementation (by using, for example,  USAGE FLOAT-LONG) or according to IEEE 754 (by using, for example,  USAGE FLOAT-BINARY-16)
  • USAGE NATIONAL, where data is stored as a string with an extended character set
  • USAGE PACKED-DECIMAL, where data is stored in the smallest possible decimal format (typically packed binary-coded decimal)


Edited data are formatted string types that are specified by symbols in a PICTURE clause. For example, the , symbol indicates that there will be a comma character at that position unless the character after it is a space, in which case it will also be a space.[23]:5-11 There are 3 types of edited data: alphanumeric-edited, national-edited and numeric-edited. Numeric-edited data can be represented using either the normal character set or the NATIONAL set (if  USAGE NATIONAL  is specified).


Most vendors provide additional types, many of which have been included into the standard. These extensions include:[23]([24]

Data type Sample declaration Notes
Single-precision floating-point USAGE COMPUTATIONAL-1 Equivalent to USAGE FLOAT-SHORT.
Double-precision floating-point USAGE COMPUTATIONAL-2 Equivalent to USAGE FLOAT-LONG.
Signed packed decimal PIC S9V999 USAGE COMPUTATIONAL-3 Equivalent to USAGE PACKED-DECIMAL.
Fixed-point binary PIC S999V99 USAGE COMPUTATIONAL-4 Equivalent to USAGE BINARY.
Fixed-point native binary PIC S9(5) USAGE COMPUTATIONAL-5 May be signed or unsigned. The PICTURE clause does not directly state the size of the variable which can either have 16, 32 or 64 bits. For example, the example specifies that it will have a maximum value of 2147483647 instead of 99999.
Unsigned packed decimal PIC 99V999 USAGE COMPUTATIONAL-6
Double-byte characters PIC G(20) Equivalent to alphanumeric data, but using a double-byte character set.


The procedure division is made of sections and paragraphs which can be used as labels and as simple subroutines. Sections may contain paragraphs, but paragraphs do not need to be in sections. Execution goes down through the procedures of a program until it is terminated. Paragraphs are declared with an identifier followed by a period and sections are declared similarly, with the word SECTION following the identifier.

Procedures can be used with the PERFORM statement which can be used similarly to GOSUB in BASIC. Performing a section means that execution travels through any paragraphs it contains, even if doing so will take control flow out of the specified procedures.

Object-oriented programming[edit]

Support for object-oriented programming was added in COBOL 2002. COBOL supports classes and interfaces. Classes contain FACTORY objects, containing class methods and variables, and OBJECT objects, containing instance methods and variables. These objects may implement interfaces, which allows polymorphism. Objects are stored as references which may be optionally restricted to a certain type. Methods can be accessed through the INVOKE statement or through inline method invocation.

*> These are equivalent.
INVOKE my-class "foo" RETURNING bar
MOVE my-class::"foo" TO bar *> Inline method invocation

Method overloading is not permitted in COBOL 2002.

COBOL does not provide any way to hide any methods. Class data can be hidden, however, by declaring it without the PROPERTY clause, which leaves the user with no way to access it.

Classes may inherit from the standard class BASE which provides the object constructor New and the factory object constructor FactoryObject. A factory object constructor allows factory methods to be called on objects of an unknown type.

Support for generic programming is provided through parameterized classes, which can be instantiated to use any class or interface.

Hello, world[edit]

An example of the "Hello, world" program in COBOL:

           DISPLAY 'Hello, world'.
           STOP RUN.

Hello, OS/360 circa 1972[edit]

On an IBM System/360 running OS/360 MVT 21.8f, circa 1972 (which predates the tradition of using Hello, world for introductory examples), Hello, world would have been punched onto 80-column cards, containing source code similar to:

  002  PROGRAM-ID.  'HELLO'.
  0066     CONSOLE IS CNSL.
  090  000-DISPLAY.
  110      STOP RUN.

The "//" source lines are JCL statements, surrounding the COBOL sequence-numbered source code. The ANS COBOL Compile, Link, and Go module "COBUCLG" was typically utilized to compile and execute the code. The resulting "HELLO, WORLD" output would have then been displayed on the operator's console.

Criticism and defense[edit]

Lack of structure[edit]

In his letter to an editor in 1975 entitled "How do we tell truths that might hurt?" which was critical of several programming languages contemporaneous with COBOL, computer scientist and Turing Award recipient Edsger Dijkstra remarked that "The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense."[25]

In his dissenting response to Dijkstra's article and the above "offensive statement," computer scientist Howard E. Tompkins defended structured COBOL: "COBOL programs with convoluted control flow indeed tend to 'cripple the mind'," but this was because "There are too many such business application programs written by programmers that have never had the benefit of structured COBOL taught well..."[26]

COBOL lacked any facility for defining independent procedures/functions until COBOL-74. This complicated development because it meant that all variables were global and could be modified anywhere within the program. However, its varied control structures reduced the need for GO TOs, with the PERFORM statement allowing programmers to easily access powerful looping facilities.[27]:349–350

Additionally, the introduction of OO-COBOL has added support for object-oriented code as well as user-defined functions and user-defined data types to COBOL's repertoire.

Compatibility issues after standardization[edit]

COBOL-85 was not fully compatible with earlier versions, resulting in the "caesarean birth" of COBOL-85.[clarification needed] Joseph T. Brophy, the CIO of Travelers Insurance, spearheaded an effort to inform users of COBOL of the heavy reprogramming costs of implementing the new standard.[3]:11 As a result the ANSI COBOL Committee received more than 3,200 letters from the public, mostly negative, requiring the committee to make changes. On the other hand, conversion to COBOL-85 was thought to increase productivity in future years, thus justifying the conversion costs.[3]

Verbose syntax[edit]

COBOL syntax has often been criticized for its verbosity. However, proponents note that this was intentional in the language design because it made the code self-documenting, easing program maintenance.[8]:53 One of the design goals of COBOL was that non-programmers—managers, supervisors, and users—could read and understand the code.[27]:350 This is why COBOL has English-like syntax and structural elements—including: nouns, verbs, clauses, sentences, sections, and divisions. Consequently, COBOL is considered by at least one source to be "The most readable, understandable and self-documenting programming language in use today. [...] Not only does this readability generally assist the maintenance process but the older a program gets the more valuable this readability becomes."[28] On the other hand, the mere ability to read and understand a few lines of COBOL code does not grant to an executive or end user the experience and knowledge needed to design, build, and maintain large software systems.

Alienation from the computer science community[edit]

The COBOL community has always been isolated from the computer science community. No academic computer scientists participated in the design of COBOL, with all of those on the committee from a commercial background or from government. This was due to the differing interests of computer scientists at the time who were more interested in fields like numerical analysis, physics and system programming instead of the commercial file-processing problems COBOL development tackled. The COBOL specification did not use the new Backus-Naur form, resulting in severe criticism at the time. COBOL also suffered from a shortage of material covering it, with introductory books taking until 1963 to appear. By 1985, there were twice as many books on Fortran and four times as many books on BASIC than on COBOL in the Library of Congress.[27]:348–349

Later, as COBOL became a mainstream language, COBOL suffered as university professors taught more modern, state-of-the-art languages and techniques instead of COBOL which was said to have a "trade school" nature.[27]:351

Flawed language features[edit]

COBOL historically suffered from poor string-handling facilities, which were only fixed in COBOL-74. The hard to spot and easily mislaid scope-delimiting period was problematic and superseded in COBOL-85 by scope-terminators. Until COBOL-85, only paragraphs could be used in PERFORM statements, which made programs harder to understand as the reader had to search for the body of the statement.[27]:350

Other defenses[edit]

COBOL's data structures influenced subsequent programming languages, with its record and file structure influencing PL/I and Pascal. The REDEFINES clause was a predecessor to Pascal's variant records and explicit file structure definitions preceded the development of database management systems. Aggregated data was also a significant advance over the arrays found in Fortran.[27]:349

The COPY statement was a successful feature that eventually became part of subsequent languages as an include directive.[27]:349

Until COBOL 2002, COBOL was a simple language with a limited scope of function (with no pointers, no user-defined types, and no user-defined functions), encouraging a straightforward coding style. This has made it well-suited to its primary domain of business computing—where the program complexity lies in the business rules that need to be encoded rather than sophisticated algorithms or data structures.

Standardization meant programs written in COBOL are portable and language has since spread on to a wide variety of hardware platforms and operating systems.[29] Additionally, the rigid hierarchical structure restricts the definition of external references to the Environment Division, which simplifies platform changes in particular.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oliveira, Rui (2006). The Power of Cobol. City: BookSurge Publishing. ISBN 0-620-34652-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d e CODASYL (July 1969). CODASYL COBOL Journal of Development 1968. National Bureau of Standards. LCCN 73601243. 
  3. ^ a b c d Garfunkel, Jerome (1987). The COBOL 85 Example Book. New York: Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 0-471-80461-4. 
  4. ^ a b Hubbel, Thane (1999). Sams Teach Yourself COBOL in 24 Hours. Sams Publishing. ISBN 0-672-31453-3. LCCN 98087215. 
  5. ^ a b Williams, Kathleen Broome (10 November 2012). Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Cyber Sea. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1612512655. OCLC 818867202. 
  6. ^ Sammet, Jean (1978). "The Early History of COBOL". ACM SIGPLAN Notices (Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.) 13 (8): 121–161. doi:10.1145/960118.808378. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  7. ^ Wexelblat, Richard (1981). History of Programming Languages. Boston: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-745040-8. 
  8. ^ a b c Belzer, Jack; Albert G., Holzman; Kent, Allen (1 December 1976). "COBOL". Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology: Volume 5. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0824722555. 
  9. ^ Klein, William M. (4 October 2010). "American National Standard COBOL 1974". The History of COBOL. p. 16. Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Triance, J. M. (1974). Programming in COBOL: A Course of Twelve Television Lectures. Manchester University Press. p. 87. ISBN 0-7190-0592-2. 
  11. ^ Baird, George N.; Oliver, Paul (May 1977). "1974 Standard (X3.23–1974)". Programming Language Standards — Who Needs Them?. pp. 19–21. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Roy, M K; Dastidar, D Ghost (1 June 1989). "Features of COBOL - 85". COBOL Programming: Problems and Solutions (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill Education. pp. 438–451. ISBN 978-0074603185. 
  13. ^ Saade, Henry; Wallace, Ann (October 1995). "COBOL '97: A Status Report". Dr. Dobb's Journal. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "NetCOBOL for .Net". GTSoftware. 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "ISO/IEC 1989". ISO. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d "ISO/IEC 1989:20xx FCD 1.0 - Programming language COBOL" (PDF). ISO. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Kizior, Ronald J.; Carr, Donald; Halpern, Paul. "Does COBOL Have a Future?". The Proceedings of the Information Systems Education Conference 2000 17 (126). Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  18. ^ a b Carr, Donald; Kizior, Ronald J. (13 June 2003). "Continued Relevance of COBOL in Business and Academia: Current Situation and Comparison to the Year 2000 Study" (PDF). Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "COBOL Initial Specifications for a COmmon Business Oriented Language". Department of Defense. April 1960. Archived from the original on 12 February 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "Reserved Words Table". Micro Focus Visual COBOL 2.2 COBOL Language Reference. Micro Focus. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  21. ^ Examples of compiler support for ALTER can be seen in the following:
    • Tiffin, Brian. September 2013. "State of the Project". GNU Cobol. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
    • "The ALTER Statement". Micro Focus Visual COBOL 2.2 for Visual Studio 2013 COBOL Language Reference. Micro Focus. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
    • "ALTER Statement (Nucleus)" (PDF). COBOL85 Reference Manual. Fujitsu. November 1996. p. 555. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
    • "ALTER Statement". Enterprise COBOL for z/OS Language Reference. IBM. June 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "The ALTER Statement". Micro Focus Visual COBOL 2.2 for Visual Studio 2013 COBOL Language Reference. Micro Focus. Retrieved 28 December 2013. "The ALTER statement is classed as an obsolete element in the ANSI'85 standard and is scheduled to be deleted from the next full revision of the ANSI Standard." 
  23. ^ a b c d Cutler, Gary (21 November 2013). "GNU COBOL 2.0 Programmer's Guide" (2nd ed.). Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "DATA DIVISION—Data description entry". Enterprise COBOL for z/OS Language Reference. IBM. 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  25. ^ Dijkstra, Edsger W. (2006). "E. W. Dijkstra Archive: How do we tell truths that might hurt? (EWD498)". University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved August 29, 2007. 
  26. ^ Tompkins, H. E. (1983). "In defense of teaching structured COBOL as computer science". ACM SIGPLAN Notices 18 (4): 86. doi:10.1145/948176.948186.  edit
  27. ^ a b c d e f g Shneiderman, B. (October 1985). "The Relationship Between COBOL and Computer Science". Annals of the History of Computing (IEEE) 7 (4): 348–352. doi:10.1109/MAHC.1985.10041. 
  28. ^ a b Coughlan, Michael (2002). "Introduction to COBOL". Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  29. ^ This can be seen in:


  • Ebbinkhuijsen, Wim B.C., COBOL Alphen aan den Rijn/Diegem: Samson Bedrijfsinformatie bv, 1990. ISBN 90-14-04560-3. (Dutch)