Author Topic: COBOL Compiler  (Read 600 times)

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Offline torrind

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COBOL Compiler
« on: 23:45, 29 October 18 »
Hi All,


Am I right in assuming that there was a version of CIS COBOL available for Amstrad machines? In particular I'm looking for a copy to run on the Amstrad PCW series. I'm not getting much luck via the interweb so I thought I'd ask you wonderful people! ;D






Darren

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #1 on: 00:35, 30 October 18 »
Hello Darren,

I don't know about CIS Cobol, I'll have to have a dig about that.   I have a version of Cobol from some time ago, also, there was a copy of MS Cobol in with the software on the DOM supplied with JonB's uIDE device.

Was there a specific reason you were looking for the CIS version, as opposed to anything else?

For this sort of thing, if the implementation was OK for CP/M 2 or 3, then I'd expect it to be OK for the PCW, which is sufficiently standard CP/M.   Those systems that do have a specifically Amstrad/PCW version are systems that require setting up for screen/terminal codes for things like CLS, cursor position, reverse video and things like that.   So Wordstar does, dBase II does, any spreadsheet probably does.   Most languages do not, as they'd expect you to create your own functions for that anyway.

If you want a Cobol, let me know.

Update:   The product referred to as CIS Cobol is also knows as Micro Focus Cobol.   CIS Cobol was the initial primary product of Micro Focus, who subsequently produced various other software products as well.   Some sources hint that MS Cobol was a licenced version of the Micro Focus product, but I'm not certain of this, however I've just seen a document on the web referring to details of the syntax of MS Cobol that carries a reference to Micro Focus licence at the bottom.  NB, the vast part of the specification for Cobol was part of the ANSI standard, which would have been followed fairly closely by actual compiler producers.   However, there certainly were differences between the various compilers.

Update2:  I've been digging into this further, for my own benefit as well.   I'm now pretty sure that there is no connection between CIS/Micro Focus Cobol and the MS product, although they may well be pretty similar in scope and sophistication.

Note that Micro Focus is a current/active UK company (it appears) and they may well still sell their current Cobol product, and there is evidence that they are inclined to protect their copyright via legal action.   MicroSoft, on the other hand, seem to have 'abandoned' their CP/M systems, which are openly available for download via the web.

The MS-Cobol package is fully compatible with MS's Fortan and the M80 Assembler/linker package, so modules from all three can be linked together.

The bits I have for Cobol v.4.65 do not include any 'installation' for any terminal type, however there is code provided (as .MAC and .REL) for various terminal types, including suitable for the Amstrad PCW, which could be linked in with any system.

The software I have did not include any documentation, however I have traced and downloaded a manual file (150+ pages) of pretty complete documentation including language reference, user guide, and full details of using the associated packages (Fortran, M80, etc) in conjunction with Cobol.

If you want a 'serious' Cobol, and the CIS Cobol is not available, I'd suggest that the MS variant will be OK.



Geoff
« Last Edit: 02:30, 31 October 18 by GeoffB17 »

Offline PaddyC13

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #2 on: 14:15, 31 October 18 »
May be I can shed some light on CIS COBOL and MS COBOL (having worked for Micro Focus during that period).  Initially Microsoft wrote their own COBOL compiler but came to the conclusion that it was better to OEM Micro Focus' product (I supported both for a few years).  MS COBOL and MF COBOL ran on DOS and were the same product (well, MS COBOL was a subset of MF COBOL in terms of what came on the disks).


CIS COBOL ran on CP/M and I certainly remember it being available for the Amstrad PCW (when I was selling them) but by the time I joined MF it was simply a box of manuals gathering dust in a cupboard.


Hope this helps.


Paddy
UK


Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #3 on: 15:29, 31 October 18 »
Thanks, Paddy, for the clarification.   Useful to know regarding the DOS versions.

The issue here though is really about the CP/M versions, in particular how comparable are MS-Cobol and CIS Cobol?

While you're here, maybe you might comment re pricing.   Some software houses responded to the success of the PCW by dusting off their old (and obsolete ??) CP/M packages and re-released them for the PCW market at much more appropriate prices.   I bought things like dBase II, various Digital Research packages, and I think some others.   I don't think MS did much, maybe they were already too focused on the DOS market.  What did MF do regarding CIS Cobol, did they do much 'dusting off'?  What was the price back then of this package?

Thanks.

Geoff

Offline PaddyC13

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #4 on: 15:52, 31 October 18 »
Hi Geoff,


Alas the CP/M period was over by the time I joined Micro Focus and the focus (excuse the pun) was very much on the Enterprise business i.e. DOS, OS/2 (remember that?) and the emerging Windows platform.  Micro Focus was very pro OS/2 and to be fair it was a solid OS and well suited to client/server and IBM mainframe emulation.  However, the market had other ideas and Windows won that war and the rest is history.  ;)


CIS COBOL was Micro Focus first product and released after they founded in 1976 and targeted the CP/M OS.  For its time it was a very full implementation of COBOL and I believe the first COBOL compiler not on a mainframe or mini computer.  Given its release date, I would very much suspect that CIS COBOL for PCW was a "jump on the bandwagon" type release but this was before I joined in 1992.  I suspect MS COBOL-80 was written by Microsoft as they licensed it to IBM at one point.  Also, this would tie in with the fact that MS had their own COBOL compiler on DOS before licensing Micro Focus'.


As you mention, there were a number of "original" CP/M applications that had a new lease of life with the PCW.  dBASE II was rather popular and offered a lot of capability for the price.  If memory serves, I think most of these packages cost between £50 and £100 which was not a small amount in the 1980s.  Another popular package was Sage Accounts which sold like hot cakes - I remember numerous PCW8512s going out the door with a copy of Sage!  Ah happy days.


EDIT: Strange how I ended up working for Sage now...


Sadly, our copy of CIS COBOL sat on the shelf and unloved for all the time I was selling computers.  :(


Not sure if this is typical, but the PCW8512 was far more popular than the PCW8256 for us.  I would say we were selling 2 or 3 8512 models for each 8256.  This may have been luck or the fact I preferred the more capable machine and its colour (grey rather than white).  We also sold boxes and boxes of 3" disks - people never bought 1 at time, it was always a box of 10 minimum.


Hope this helps.


Paddy
UK

« Last Edit: 15:56, 31 October 18 by PaddyC13 »

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #5 on: 16:48, 31 October 18 »
Paddy,

Thanks again for the information.

I got my PCW 8256 within days of it first coming out.   If the 8512 had been available then, I might well have gone for that instead, but it was some time later.   By then, I was already thinking of a 5.25" B: drive, which I did get, as the disks were much cheaper, and more available, and there were also the options for transfering files between a PC and the PCW, which was VERY useful.

I never got around to doing anything with Cobol, although LONG ago I got a Teach Yourself Cobol book, which I must try to find (buried in the garage somewhere?).   I do remember that some aspects of Cobol were very similar to aspects of the dBase programming language, the 'picture' system springs to mind, and I got much more involved in dBase/Clipper etc rather than Cobol.

Less so in Sage, although I did quite a bit with the 'C' interface for Line 100.   That was fun!   Sage seemed to try to keep quiet about it, but I thought it was rather good and certainly useful.

Geoff

Offline PaddyC13

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #6 on: 17:32, 31 October 18 »
We must have been lucky with the 3" disks as we never had any sort of shortage.  They were not cheap (if memory serves) but we had shelves full of them.  I cannot remember how much we charged for a box of 10 - could have been £12 or £15.  The good thing about the PCW was that we were mainly selling the machine to small businesses who were less concerned about cost (within reason).  We then moved on to selling Atari STs in a similar bundle (520ST+B&W Monitor+Printer+1st Word) and this went ballistic.  Customers came in to see an Amstrad PCW and we showed them the ST (dropping hints as to how similar it was to a Mac) and they invariably bought the ST.  ;D   


Again, I cannot quite recall the price we charged for the ST bundle but it was less £1K but a lot more than the PCW.  Plus they could hook it up to their TV and play games (perish the thought).  I basically moved away from selling computers (and became an IBM mainframe programmer) just as Amstrad released the PC1512.  These were immensely popular as well and we could sell as many as we could get our hands on.  They were not bad PCs but they were a bit like the CPC664 i.e. good idea but quickly replaced by the PC1640.  In fact, I was so impressed with the PC1640 that I bought one - for its time the spec/price was simply amazing.


As for COBOL.  Micro Focus COBOL was and still is very capable.  The current equivalent product is Micro Focus Visual COBOL and this runs within Visual Studio or Eclipse.  The current MF COBOL product is fully supported and enhanced by what I know to be some very clever developers.  Obviously MF is now a huge global company but the COBOL business is still at its core and very profitable.  Funny really as the market has been saying COBOL is dead for decades but MF makes millions from it to this day.


Kind regards


Paddy
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Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #7 on: 18:06, 31 October 18 »
Thanks for background Paddy.

Hmm, don't know what's happened to OP on this thread.  Still there, Darren?

Don't know if he had some 'plan' regarding getting Cobol, or specifically the CIS Cobol.

A few years back, before I 'retired', I heard various hints about the continued existence of Cobol as an important language, and kept thinking I should get into it.   I don't think it would have been a major problem, even at mainframe or mini level, given what I've done with various other languages.   But when I looked, there seemed to be nothing advertised.   Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, maybe there were more than enough Cobol programmers/developers about to keep the market happy.   A lot of the talk about the Cobol market was maybe just 'talk'?  Anyway, I can linger on the edge of retirement with Clipper and C and a few other things?

Back when I was employed, for a while my work desktop was adorned by a succession of Amstrad 1640s, usually with a 20 Mb Hard Card installed.   Useful, as the machine I was using got sold from under me, take the Hard card out and stick it into the next machine I got issued with!

Geoff

Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #8 on: 23:51, 31 October 18 »
LOL - Yes I'm still here and just find this whole history journey between you both fascinating.


Back in 1985 I did an NCC Threashold scheme (bit like a YTS of the day) but aimed at IT. I did COBOL at College and wrote an airline booking system with it - I just want to get a decent implementation of COBOL to write it again if my memory will allow  :doh:


After finishing college, I worked for Gateway food markets HQ in Bristol (before they rebranded as Somerfield) I worked as a mainframe op on IBM3090 and Amdhal mainframes too (is that how its spelt) and the joys of spooling paper tape into the FCB ready to print company cheques......


There was no 'batch' processing initially and I fondly remember a colleague issuing a JES2 command to flood the system with queued jobs which all failed!!!


happy days - I could bore you all silly..... Right, I'm off now to run an OPDV1007 'scratch' tape job as we're running low on tapes...ttfn Darren

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #9 on: 00:33, 01 November 18 »
Boring us with stories - you are joking.   Looking forward to it!

I'd guess that the MS-Cobol will be sophisticated enough.   I was thinking you might have some specifically CIS Cobol code you wanted to implement?

Regarding the CIS system, I have just sourced a disk image of that system, BUT - it's a BIG BUT.

The image is for a RC 702 system, which appears to be a peculiar (?) system produced for Danish schools back in the 1980s.   The disk format might be a little odd as well, and the structure of the machine is also a little odd, so even if I can reconstitute the disk from the image, and get at the files, the system might not work on the PCW so I'm not sure if it's worth the effort.   I've got the image though, and I'll try something.   If 22DISK (which I have) knows about the disk format, then I'll see how far I can get.

In the meantime, I can sent you the stuff for the MS-Cobol if you want.   Incl the doc file, which is fairly large, 250k or so.   Prob not ideal to try to access that on the PCW, keep that on your PC?

1985 or so!   Back then, I was working as an admin officer at our local LA Planning Dept.   I was just about the department's computer expert, as no-one else knew anything.   Anyway, the Council decided to invest in an IBM mini computer, a System /36.   I got pally with the computer manager (obviously).  Our department was NOT HAPPY that there was no software available for the machine for our needs, so I suggested that I would write something.   The system did have a pretty sophisticated interpreted BASIC, I produced a plan in easy stages as to what I'd do, and offered to do most of the programming in my own time.   The computer manager was OK, he liked the idea of more users using his system.   People thought the whole thing a bit of a joke, I think?   Anyway, I wrote the first module, for the initial entry of applications as they came in, incl look-ups etc, entered up the code, did the usual debugging, instructed the girl who was to be the primary user how to do it (she was quite thrilled I think about the whole thing), and awaited reaction.   The girl did great with the data entry, and it very quickly became clear that the easiest way for anyone to find out anything about the new applications coming in was to check the computer.   The main thing everyone wanted to know was - when can our section have a screen to access this?  So I pretty much got the go-ahead to keep going.


Great for me, as long as it lasted.   Got quite a way with it.   I still think parts of it were quite clever!   I've still got a pile of printouts for most of the modules, I look at it and can just about make sense of it!   Did I write this, in 1987 - God Almighty!!

What happened next, that's another story.

Geoff

Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #10 on: 00:54, 01 November 18 »
If you have a copy of the MS COBOL, I'll give that a shot Geoff thanks.


When I look back to the time after I finished shift and my Mainframe op days (started in 86 and finished in 97) I then moved into the Network Support team. This was just a couple of years after we installed something called Ethernet across the HQ and UK based Depots  ;D  and the internet came along (remember that!!)


 One of my first projects was to install TCP/IP companywide across its WFW 3.11 PC's (prior to that they were all running NETBUI) so that people could use Netscape Navigator to surf the web. At the time I was trialling connectivity to the internet at home using a 9600k modem (I couldn't afford the snazzy new fangled 56k ones....)   :laugh:  our first 'powerful' office based PC was an Olivetti Pentium-60 but no one was allowed near it except our second in command!


Darren

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #11 on: 16:10, 01 November 18 »
Yes, I can send you the files.

How would you prefer to get them?   Just in a .zip, or in an image, or two (the doc as well would not go onto a SS image).

Geoff

Offline PaddyC13

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #12 on: 16:37, 01 November 18 »
Hi Folks,


In the interests of completeness, you can download the "Student" edition of Micro Focus Visual COBOL for free from their website.  My understanding is that this version is the same as the "Professional" products apart from you cannot create EXE files.  As I said above, you can develop COBOL within Visual Studio (Express will work) or Eclipse.


This way you can have the latest, all signing, all dancing COBOL.  ;D


Paddy
UK
« Last Edit: 16:46, 01 November 18 by PaddyC13 »

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #13 on: 17:26, 01 November 18 »
Thanks Paddy,

But I assume that this version is NOT CP/M, and will be, as well as all singing and dancing, all flashing lights, and bells and whistles, and god knows what other bloat??

I'm NOT a big fan of WinDoze.

Geoff

Offline PaddyC13

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #14 on: 18:04, 01 November 18 »
Hi Geoff,


MF COBOL runs on Windows, UNIX and Linux.  The "Student" version runs on Windows.


Paddy
UK


Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #15 on: 23:29, 01 November 18 »
For that complete retro experience, I'd like COBOL to run under CP/M  ;D


Geoff, I'm happy with what ever format you send them in either .zip or image. I take it they're .dsk or hfe?


Darren

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #16 on: 00:19, 02 November 18 »
Darren,

Er, could be?   When I referred to a zip, I meant just a zip, i.e. the indiv files just in a zip.   The image, if you wanted that, would have files in a .DSK, and that file would then be zipped.   It really depends on how you plan to use the system, i.e. in an emulator (Joyce ?) or on the actual PCW (is your's working yet ?), and what facilities you have for moving files between machines.

If you're using Joyce, that has the facility to to use system HD directly, as say C:, D: etc which is very helpful as you can access the same directories directly from the PC to make moving files between .DSK and general system much easier.   Just need to boot CP/M using a .EMS that supports the .FID process, for that I use a J29 system.

On top of that, if I send the .doc file for the Cobol, it's 250k, and too large to use easily on the PCW. so you'd prob be better to keep that on the PC for reference.   I've started trying to split the file up into more PCW sized sections, so it COULD be used on the PCW.

Basically, it's up to you to say how you'd like it, to suit how you plan to use it.   I can do whatever you prefer.

Geoff

Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #17 on: 00:53, 02 November 18 »
Geoff,


The easiest option for me would be to have a .zip containing 2 files - a .dsk image of the Cobol files and the .doc.. I plan to use the .dsk directly on my PCW via a Gotek drive and read the .doc from my MAC


Thanks as always!


Darren

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #18 on: 01:54, 02 November 18 »
Darren,

With your Gotek drive, can you cope with a B: type disk image, i.e. 730k disk?   I wasn't thinking right before, there's about 330k of the system, even after I've removed all the console templates except the one you'll need (H19).   Just goes onto one of my 340k B: disks.

Getting used to not worrying about such things with the uIDE drives!!

If you're OK with the B: type disk, then I'm OK.   Else I'll need to work out how to split all the files over 2@ A: type disks.

If you've got the one Gotek, I think this is where you need the A/B switch for it?   I think the system will accept ONLY a CF2 as A:.   Can't remember if you've got a single drive machine, and you swap to B:, will it accept a B: image then?

Geoff

Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #19 on: 16:05, 02 November 18 »

Geoff,

I don't believe I can use 730k images on the Gotek? I have used it to replace the floppy drive so I only have a single A: drive fitted.


The only other solution would be to zip up the files individually as a single file and I'll split them myself. I have a program which creates .dsk images and can use that rather than you having to do it.


Hope that's ok?


Darren

Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #20 on: 17:12, 02 November 18 »
Hi Geoff,


OK latest update - Please ignore my previous post. I have now reinstalled floppy drive A: and the Gotek is now a 730k drive B:


this means I can use your larger image.


Darren

Offline GeoffB17

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #21 on: 18:38, 02 November 18 »
Darren,

OK, I see a route ahead!

Attached should be two .ZIP files.   COBOL.ZIP should be  .DSK file for B: containing all the files for MS-COBOL, well, that's incl just the one mac/rel file for H19 terminal, and excl all the other variants, which I don't think you'll need.

The various files should be referred to in the docs, in the later sections.

The doc file is still marked as .BAK as I was in the middle of splitting it up.   It should really be .TXT as this version was plain text.   This file is in COBOLDOC.ZIP, and it would be a good idea to keep this on your faster computer, although if you've got WordStar on your PCW then this, in non-document mode, could handle a file larger than your RAM but it's rather tedious!

M80 and L80 are the standard MS assembler/linker files, and there are separate docs for those about, but I think the Cobol docs give enough info to use them within the frams of creating Cobol progs.   I've used M80/L80 on the same basis regarding C progs.

See where this gets you.   Any problems, by all means ask.

Geoff

Offline torrind

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Re: COBOL Compiler
« Reply #22 on: 20:00, 02 November 18 »
Thanks Geoff,


I'll have a play around with this tonight once I've performed my fatherly duties and read my son a Thomas the tank engine story or three!  ;D


I'll keep you informed as they say!


Darren