Cobol vs Fortran Ultimate Comparison - ByteScout
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Cobol vs Fortran Ultimate Comparison

COBOL and FORTRAN, both are pretty old programming language, known for their use-cases.

Cobol stands forCommon Business-Oriented Language, whereas FORTRAN stands for Formula Translation.

In this article, we will explore the core difference between Cobol and FORTRAN.

Cobol vs Fortran

But, before, we do so, let’s quickly take a look at their origin history.

FORTRAN was created by John Backus at IBM. He did it in 1957. It was mainly aimed at computers and hence known as a computer language. This made a need for a language that needs to be business-oriented. And, that’s why in the ’50s came a business computer Oriented programming language that can be used to read addresses and names. It is scientists‘ help, on the other hand, COBOL plays in the ground of auditors. But both languages are high-level languages. COBOL is a structured and formalized language, but FORTRAN is in free form.

Let’s check out their difference in a tabular format.

Cobol vs Fortran Key Features



Purpose COBOL was developed for business applications. It has been used in Banking Systems, Insurance Companies, and government departments.


FORTRAN was developed for formula Translation in mainframe computers, specifically, it is suited for scientific and mathematical complex calculations.


Objects Since 2002, it has been revised and adds functions that make it Object-Oriented language.COBOL Object-Oriented Programming extension is called “ADD 1 TO COBOL GIVING COBOL”. Since 2003, FORTRAN has been an Object-Oriented Language. If you intend to obtain class-like behavior, a module containing the specific methods should be combined. The methods operate on the class, with a derived type that contains the data.
Imperative COBOL is an imperative Programming language; it tells the program “How to do”. The impressive feature about COBOL is designed as an imperative and procedural way.


FORTRON is a compiled imperative language as well as an Object-oriented language.
Functional Yes, Cobol is a functional language. Cobol is not created as an exactly functional programming language. Modern Fortran programming lets the programmer use functions to express code mathematically by minimizing bug-prone mutable state and to encourage good functional discipline. As FORTRAN is a functional language too, the computations can be completed with state changes and mutable data.


 Procedural Cobol is a procedural language. As other procedural languages, it is written in a sequence of commands that tells the computer “What to do”.COBOL does not support procedural recursion. FORTRAN is a compiled imperative programming language that is best suited for scientific computing and numeric computation.
 Generic Language Cobol is not a generic language. However, support for generic language can be made available with the help of parameterized classes. FORTRAN is a generic language which means it is efficient as compile-time mistakes can be solved faster.
 Effectiveness Cobol is a highly reflective programming language; it can modify its structure and behavior. FORTRAN is also very effective when it comes to doing computations.
 Event-driven Cobol is no need to include event-driven. It can simplify programming for event-driven environments and save the procedural structures of any program.  FORTRAN is also not event-driven.
Other Paradigms Procedural, Imperative, and object-oriented. Concurrent, array-based, shared-memory/native distributed parallelism and vectorized.
 Revision It has been revised four times from its standardized date 1968.  It was revised nine times.
 Typing COBOL has a Weak and Static typing discipline. FORTRAN has strong, static, and manifests based typing discipline.
 Developed by COBOL is developed by CODASYL, ANSI, ISO


John Backus at IBM.


The fact that both COBOL and FORTRAN are created for a completely different purpose makes them quite indistinguishable. However, according to a computer scientist, COBOL is not a great programming language. It lacks strong typing, doesn’t support event-driven, and lacks generic language procedures.

FORTRAN, on the other hand, seems to offer an excellent programming language for the time it was released. It also manages to show popularity now because of its usefulness in scientific endeavors.

So, what do you think about COBOL vs FORTRAN? Comment below and let us know.


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