Printout from COBOL Program Run at RCA in August 1960


This is one of the first successful printouts of a program written in the computer programming language COBOL. After COBOL was proposed and described in 1959, programmers at Remington Rand Univac and at RCA wrote compilers that translated COBOL commands into machine language. They also wrote test programs to demonstrate the language. Like later COBOL programs , this one was divided into four sections.

The first identified the program and gave the name of the programmer. The second section, called the environment division, presented information about the specific machine used, such as the computer model, and locations to be used for different files. The third, or procedure, division was independent of the computer. It gave a series of statements about what the machine was to do. Although commands resemble ordinary English, the words used had very specific definitions and equations could be written using mathematical symbols. Finally, the data division defined the information to be processed. This data was entered so that it could be used in several programs, as in later database management systems. Successfully compiling a program produced a printout with each of these sections, as well as a listing of the desired results.

This printout of the first successful COBOL compilation at RCA relates to inventory control. One page is marked in ink: Good output – 8/17/60 (/) (isn’t it beautiful) (/) not really [the not really is crossed out] (/) well almost.

Date Made: 1960

Maker: RCA Corporation

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: New Jersey, Cherry Hill

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers, Computers & Business Machines, COBOL


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Courtesy of Howard Bromberg

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2010.3050.1Catalog Number: 2010.3050.1Nonaccession Number: 2010.3050

Object Name: documentation

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 11 1/2 in x 16 in x 1 in; 29.21 cm x 40.64 cm x 2.54 cm


Record Id: nmah_1389374

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