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Cobol hits fifty

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Cobol, the venerable computer language so beloved of Y2K-fearing businesses, has hit 50 years young today, having been invented on the 28th of May 1959 at a meeting of the Short Range Committee at the Pentagon.

The news comes from Cobol specialists Micro Focus, which tells us that there are two hundred times as many Cobol transactions as there are Google searches every day, and that in the UK we all use Cobol-powered applications ten times daily on average.

Those figures come largely from mobile phone use, with Cobol still lurking inside the systems of most network operators. Anyone using a cashpoint or booking a holiday is probably also touching some of the two hundred billion lines of code in use (and counting).

The continuing popularity of Cobol can be attributed to the fact that it just works. That and the fact that a whole generation of programmers refuse to learn anything more modern, and support for legacy systems demands that everyone continues to use a language that really should have been put down years ago.

Whatever the reason, Micro Focus is hosting some videos and history of Cobol, which will keep ageing BOFHs misty eyed while we wait ten years for the really important anniversary - 50 years of Pascal. ®

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