Interactive COBOLEnvyr Corporation

ICOBOL Timeline

Data General introduced the first minicomputer-based COBOL, called Interactive COBOL. The first system was the CS/40 system, which ran 1 to 3 users on a Nova 4 minicomputer. It ran on a custom version of the RDOS operating system called ICOS (Interactive Cobol Operating System).  This product line was augmented over the years with the microNova-based CS/10 model on the low end, and the Eclipse-based CS/60 and CS/70 models on the high end. The number of users on a system climbed to 33.

1982 -- ICOBOL 1
Data General announced a new generation of Interactive COBOL software that ran on the Eclipse (16-bit) and MV/Eclipse (32-bit) machines and used the standard DG operating systems of the time (RDOS, AOS, and AOS/VS). This product became known as ICOBOL 1. This move was significant in that it introduced an unprecedented portability of application code and data from one platform to another.

Over the years this product line also included the MP/OS operating system on the microEclipse, RDOS and AOS on the Desktop Generation series, and even a version that ran on MS-DOS on the DG/One. The user count boundaries were extended upward once more to include hundreds of users on an MV/Eclipse.

With the advent of the 32-bit Intel microprocessors, the three founders of Envyr Corporation left Data General with a vision to carry the application portability one step further - into the world of the personal computer based on Intel processors.

1987 -- ICHost
Envyr Corporation released its first product, called ICHost, which stood for Interactive COBOL Host. It was an add-on to Data General's single-user Interactive COBOL runtime for MS-DOS that extended its capability to run up to 9 terminals. It is also in 1987 that Envyr was acquired by Egan Systems. Over the next few years we built replacement components for all of DG's Interactive COBOL product except the compiler. The runtime  system technology was also expanded to use multiple Intelligent Multiplexor cards to offload runtime processing and terminal handling from the main processor. This produced a highly scalable system and expanded the upward limits of the MS-DOS based systems to 65 users.

We introduced our own COBOL compiler, severing that final dependency our customers had on Data General. We also expanded our operating system offerings to include the UNIX operating system. Once again, the customer had a wider choice of systems while preserving the complete portability of his applications and data files.

Our ICHost product was so successful as an ICOBOL replacement, that Data General approached Envyr/Egan Systems to take over the development of their product. So, we made an agreement with them to acquire Interactive COBOL and merge it with our ICHost product.

1994 -- ICOBOL 2
After an extended development period, the new product was released and became known as ICOBOL 2. It was available on MS-DOS, AOS/VS, DG/UX, and various other UNIX offerings. ICOBOL 2 introduced several new features from the DG lineage to our customers, and introduced our many innovations to the remaining Data General customers. The expanded operating system offerings provided additional options to both customer bases.

Hot on the heels of our success with ICOBOL 2, we next developed and delivered a replacement for Data General's AOS/VS COBOL (or 32-bit COBOL as it was sometimes called). This product was shipped as VX/COBOL and incorporated a redesigned metacode that was capable of handling the  large 32-bit address space required by AOS/VS COBOL applications.

In order to improve inter-connectivity with other applications, we developed and released a read-only ODBC driver for ICOBOL Indexed files.

In May we shipped our first native 32-bit Windows version. Until this time, our customers used the MS-DOS based product on Windows. This version also introduced a Windows installation program to simplify the system. Multi-user systems were supported under Windows/NT. We also enhanced the ODBC driver to have write capabilities.

Also in 1997, we developed the first version of the G2K Wizard, which combined our compiler technology with Visual SlickEdit to produce a Y2K analysis and remediation tool. Although it was not a success in the market-place, it allowed us to establish a services department that provided timely, top-quality remediation work for a number of customers.

2000 -- ICOBOL 3
We delivered the next major version - ICOBOL 3. Once again, we performed a major merge of COBOL products: merging ICOBOL 2 and VX/COBOL, building on the metacode design used in VX/COBOL. This version marked the first time since the days of ICOS - 20 years earlier - that an ICOBOL application HAD to be recompiled from source. Up until this time, one could simply convert the original DG metacode to the ICOBOL 2 metacode.

In a further move to assist our developer community, we introduced an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Windows. This product combined an editor, the compiler, and a G2K-like analysis database all in one package. We also released Windows GUI thin client that used the SP2 technology from Flexus.

We augmented the server-side support of the Windows GUI thin client by introducing UNIX-based servers. We also introduced our ODBC driver for UNIX-based systems.

We added support for a character-based thin client that used the same screen management mechanisms  as the current runtime system. The character thin client runs on any of our support platforms, and the server can also run on any of the supported platforms.

We added Integrated SQL, which added direct support in the COBOL language for many SQL features.  It operates via ODBC on either Windows or UNIX and provides access to any database with ODBC drivers. This enhancement also provides direct support for most SQL data types, further increasing the ease of use and interoperability with SQL databases and legacy COBOL business logic.

We added several web-related enhancements to the product. We introduced a callable routine that provides a basic capability for sending e-mail via SMTP directly from COBOL.  We have also added a command-line utility (also callable from COBOL) that provides the ability to send an HTTP or HTTPS request and capture the response. Some customers are using this feature to perform XML-based transactions from the COBOL application.

We released the 3.6x series of revisions which focused on bug fixes, stability, and bringing components and documentation up-to-date prior to releasing ICOBOL 4.

2008 -- ICOBOL 4
We also released ICOBOL 4 late in the year. This version incorporated several important updates to our underlying technologies needed to provide the framework for a new series of enhancements. Some of the enhancements that were included in version 4.00 were a smarter thinclient component that allows mixing character mode and GUI mode (SP2/QPR) just like the runtime system itself and also incorporates a reconnection mechanism. This replaced two separate thinclient components. We also made major improvements to our logging facility to further improve data integrity as well as failover and recovery mechanisms. We also incorporated an ICOBOL 2 compatible runtime so that customers who hadn't upgraded to ICOBOL 3 have an easy migration path to ICOBOL 4.

We added the ability to create PDF files directly from COBOL. In many cases print jobs can be converted to PDF print jobs simply by adding an open option through our link-file facility. The print job can also specify a background form which is merged in the resulting PDF to produce high quality output.

We worked with several customers to assist them with the move to cloud computing using servers operated by Envyr. As of 2014, over 25 companies with almost 150 total users are doing business this way. Along the way we worked to enhance the features of the core ICOBOL product while beginning the major work of moving the product to 64-bit computing.

late 2014 -- ICOBOL 5
We added native 64-bit support and enhanced our data file managers to handle multi-terabyte file sizes, even on 32-bit platforms. We also revised our licensing to provide complete portability and cross-system authorization across Windows and Linux and to bundle many features that were previously extra-cost add-ons. We began to expand our cloud-based solutions.