COBOL: Not Dead Yet

By Deane Barker on October 16, 2006

Cobol Coders: Going, Going, Gone?: I have never had the exquisite joy of messing with COBOL. Dare to dream.

Cobol, that mainstay of business programming throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, is not going away anytime soon. In a Computerworld survey early this year of IT managers at 352 companies, 62% of the respondents reported that they actively use Cobol. Of those, three quarters said they use it “a lot” and 58% said they’re using it to develop new applications.

Nevertheless, with a few exceptions, companies aren’t enthusiastically expanding their use of Cobol. In the survey, of those who use Cobol, 36% said they are “gradually migrating away” from it, 16% said they will replace it “every chance we get,” and 25% said they’d like to replace Cobol with something else but have found that too difficult or too expensive.



  1. It would be interesting to find out what other relics are still in use out there… On a daily basis I’m programming MS C (v1??). To do this I’m running a virtual Win95 with a 4DOS shell to keep these things going. Any one else ever heard of/work with Dr.Halo or Deskview? I know the price of 3.5″ floppies have far exceded the price or CDs.

  2. Dr. Halo is a DOS based graphics program that can be used with a Digitizer.

    I believe that Deskview is a DRDos application that is used like a GUI to select programs on a hard drive.

  3. “I have never had the exquisite joy of messing with COBOL. Dare to dream.” — You might as well be saying “I’ve never had the exquisite joy of a full weekend heroin bender”. Sorry to be a dream hater! But if you’d like to see what it’s like (the COBOL, not the heroin) go ahead and write 3 lines of php code. Then wrap that in 87 lines of comments. Try to compile, realize that one of those 87 lines of “configuration” code has an error and look dumbfounded at the meaningless error message!

    It’s been 5-6 years since my one COBOL class, but that’s what I remember it as.

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