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After ENIAC:
Important Milestones and Fascinating Innovations During the Last Fifty Years of Computing Research at Penn

This exhibit was researched and written by Nicholas G. Heavens, University Archives Summer Research Fellow, 2000-2002.


4. The Birth of COBOL

Photograph: Grace Murray Hopper (second from left) and other unidentified individuals at a donation check presentation from Remington-Rand Univac to the University of Pennsylvania, 13 July 1962. In 1959, the University of Pennsylvania was a center for both computer research at the Moore School and the University Computer Center and business research at the Wharton School. The University Computer Center therefore was a logical place to host a meeting of computer manufacturers and programmers to discuss the creation of a computer language for business applications. The Department of Defense was interested enough in the idea that it sponsored a subsequent Conference on Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) that developed the Common Business Oriented Language (COBOL).

COBOL was partially developed by Moore School Special Lecturer Grace Murray Hopper and was based on her FLOW-MATIC compiler system. University of Pennsylvania researchers contributed to the development of COBOL through their professional activities with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

As part of the increasing focus of the UCC on data processing from outside businesses and Wharton School research, the University purchased COBOL compilers for its new UNIVAC SS80 and IBM 7040/1401 in 1962 and 1963.