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Getting COBOL to Run

Getting COBOL to Run (page 1 of 3)


Proposing a computer language and actually getting its programs to run are two different challenges. During 1960, teams at the Philadelphia office of Remington Rand Univac and at the RCA 501 Systems Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, worked tirelessly to get COBOL working. They wrote COBOL compilers, highly specialized programs that translated general COBOL instructions into machine-specific code. They then tested programs written in both machine code and COBOL to ensure that they worked correctly.

The COBOL project brought together a diverse group—men, women, African Americans, and Asian Americans. At Remington Rand UNIVAC, team members used the room-sized Univac I and Univac II computers. Grace Hopper, shown at center right in the first photograph, directed the group. Programs were entered on reels of magnetic tape, using a special form of typewriter called a Unityper.

Programmers at the Console of a UNIVAC I, with Unityper and Tape Drives

Gift of Grace Murray Hopper

Programmers at the Console of a UNIVAC I

Gift of Grace Murray Hopper

Unityper II, 1957

Gift of Unisys Corporation