(COmmon Business Oriented Language) World's favorite mainframe programming language. Despite its venerable roots as one of the earliest high-level compiled languages, COBOL today still underpins some of the world's most important commercial and government operations, as it remains the most widely used programming language on mainframe computers. Created in 1959 by a cross-industry group of computer manufacturers under the auspices of the US Department of Defense, COBOL was designed as a machine-independent, industry-standard programming language for business data processing -- although in practice there were various incompatibilities between individual makers' versions. It has continued to evolve under the management of US and international standards bodies. The latest revision is COBOL 2002, with the next planned for 2008.