The Short Range Committee which defined the initial version of COBOL was established during a two-day meeting held at the Pentagon on 28-29 May 1959. Convened under the auspices of the US Department of Defense, it was chaired by Charles A. Phillips, then Director of the Data Systems Research Staff and attended by about 40 people from three distinct groups - government (15 representatives from 7 organisations); manufacturers (15 representatives from 10 companies); potential users from a further 10 companies.
Grace Hopper, who is generally credited as creator of COBOL was among the attendees at this meeting. The specification of the new language was greatly influenced by the B-0 (Business Language version 0) which was later became FLOW-MATIC written by Hopper for Remington Rand for the UNIVAC I. Its hallmark, and subsequently COBOL's was in being an English-like data processing language.
The COBOL language still persists. In the early 1990s it was decided to add object-orientation in the next full revision of COBOL and this was achieved in the 2002 (4th revision) along with other "modern" features including user-defined functions and XML generation and parsing.
Computer Languages by committee - the 1960s
Grace Hopper - The Mother of Cobol
Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age