No Respect: Survey Shows Lack of Awareness, Appreciation for COBOL

Thu May 28, 2009 4:00am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Despite major impact over 50 years, Americans don`t know what COBOL is
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--(Business Wire)--
According to survey results announced today by Micro Focus (LSE.MCRO.L), the
leading provider of enterprise application management and modernization
solutions, the average American relies on the programming language COBOL at
least 13 times per day for routine activities such as placing phone calls, using
a credit or debit card, and commuting to and from work. Despite their reliance
on this ubiquitous language, which turns 50 years old today, only one in four
survey respondents (23 percent) have heard of COBOL or know what it is. 

The survey, commissioned by Micro Focus and conducted by Harris Interactive,
found that respondents use their cell phones, ATM and credit cards, or travel by
train on average 90 times per week. COBOL is the programming language that all
of these daily transactions are originally based on, yet 77 percent of the
survey respondents had never heard of the programming language that is essential
for many of their day-to-day activities. 

"COBOL is one American icon that has truly stood the test of time, and we
believe that it will be around for another 50 years running the core
transactions that we all rely on to go about our daily lives," said Ken Powell,
President, North American Operations at Micro Focus. "To understand COBOL`s
impact, you need only to imagine a day without it. It would impact every aspect
of our lives - from traffic signals, cash registers and cell phones to online
travel reservations. Put simply, we`d struggle to function without COBOL." 

According to analyst estimates, 60-80 percent of the world`s enterprises still
rely on COBOL to run their business. There are over 200 billion lines of COBOL
currently in operation globally across every industry, and the language supports
over 30 billion transactions per day - many of which impact our lives every day.

"At Micro Focus, we see first-hand every day the benefits and the staying power
of this classic programming language as we help our customers maximize their
investment in COBOL by modernizing core business applications," continued

According to the survey, men are more than twice as likely to know about COBOL,
with 33 percent of male respondents versus just 14 percent of female respondents
aware of COBOL`s existence. Among age demographics, middle-aged respondents aged
45-54 were most likely to know about COBOL (29 percent), as opposed to younger
generations. Of the respondents aged 18-34, only 15 percent knew what COBOL was.
Micro Focus today also announced similar results for a UK-based survey
administered by YouGov Plc., which found that adults in the UK interact with
COBOL 10 times per day, while only 18 percent of respondents had ever heard of

Alan Rodger, Senior Research Analyst at Butler Group (a Datamonitor company)
compares COBOL`s heritage with that of the internal combustion engine, "COBOL
can be thought of as IT`s equivalent to the ubiquitous power source of
automobiles - both technologies enabled the human population to benefit in many
ways from new possibilities'. He continued, "COBOL has been the prevalent
language for developing business applications throughout the greater part of
five decades. Systems and applications written in COBOL remain in widespread use
within the vertical sectors that spend some of the world`s largest IT budgets -
such as Finance, Government, Manufacturing, and Telecoms - as well as numerous

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first meeting at the US Pentagon of the
committee that would develop the COBOL language. In the 50 years since its
creation on May 28, 1959, COBOL, which stands for Common Business-Oriented
Language, has gone on to become the preeminent programming language for

To commemorate the historic 50th birthday for COBOL, Micro Focus has launched a
social media hub for COBOL users around the world to share how they are
celebrating this milestone. The site features videos, photos and fun COBOL
facts, helping users tap into the global community of COBOL developers who use
the language every day. For more information, you can reach the site at 

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive® via its
QuickQuerySM online omnibus service on behalf of Micro Focus between May 1-5,
2009 among a nationwide sample of 2,397 U.S. adults aged 18 and over. Data were
weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S.
adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household
income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. 

About Micro Focus

Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides innovative software that allows
companies to dramatically improve the business value of their enterprise
applications. Micro Focus Enterprise Application Modernization and Management
software enables customers` business applications to respond rapidly to market
changes and embrace modern architectures with reduced cost and risk. For
additional information please visit

Facts about COBOL (Source: Datamonitor (November 2008),`COBOL - continuing to
drive value in the 21st Century`)

* Around 200 billion lines of COBOL code are in live operation 
* 75% of the world`s business data is processed in COBOL 
* 90% of global financial transactions are processed in COBOL 
* There are 1.5 - 2 million developers, globally, working with COBOL code 
* Around 5 billion lines of new COBOL code are added to live systems every year

Dan Gaffney, 617-226-8840

Copyright Business Wire 2009

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