• Because the inventors targeted that market
  • COmmon Business-Oriented Language. It is all in the name
  • As opposed to scientific languages from the same time (about 1960) like Fortran and Algol. The latter were developed for making complex and quite precise calculations while Cobol is hady for text and some calculations where you need only a limited number of significant digits.
  • COBOL is considered "business-oriented" because it is good for handling business-oriented applications, i.e., supply/inventory, financial, etc. Another aspect is its "SMALL-VOLUME-IN-LARGE-VOLUME-OUT" characteristic, meaning it takes minimal coding to potentially produce large volume of output, (mass-storge, report, etc.)
  • One of the most important features of Cobol business programming is it uses decimal arithmetic instead of binary floating-point like most programming languages. This means in Cobol you can accurately represent and calculate decimal fractions (like dollars and cents) as well as very large numbers like 10 trillion dollars (the American national debt). Floating-point representation suffers from round-off errors. And contrary to a previous answer, Cobol decimal values have a much larger number of significant digits.
  • I was a Cobol programmer for close to 20 years. What was great about it was that it was self documenting. I was given programs written by people long gone and was usually able to figure them out. I worked for a bank so all the math was simple. It was not designed for online applications so input was usually a punched card and output a printer. As I neared retirement we began to design online systems. That was difficult for Cobol since it could not handle formatted input. You would have to enter something like "123,11234445,4.05,6,8" and if something was off by one character there was an error. I am not sure what the main language is now for banking.

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