Hands on COBOL

I'm interested in learning a little about COBOL in hands on sort of way -not academically.  I mean I want to write something and test it as I'm learning.  I don't know where to begin.  I need some guidence. I'm really not a programmer - know about DOS scripts only.  I'm looking for an easy way to get to know COBOL.

I think I need some kind of tuturial and some kind of environment I can run COBOL on a PC.  
imhersonAsked:
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LordWabbitCommented:
http://www.freebyte.com/programming/cobol/#freecobolcompilers
The above link should have all you asked for (various free compilers and free tutorials).
Can't imagine why you would want to mess around with COBOL though, don't get me wrong, worked in COBOL for 4 years, but it's structured to do data crunching, which it does well I suppose.  Also pretty easy to learn, but not as easy as Visual Basic.
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LordWabbitCommented:
Almost forgot, the best editor / compiler for COBOL (IMHO) is from Micro Focus, but its not free so...
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imhersonAuthor Commented:
I want to get it on my resume. BTW, I thought this ran on a mainframe.  If that's true, have you ever heard of a virtual machine (vmware or other virtual environment) that I could run this on.
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LordWabbitCommented:
There are compilers which allow you to run COBOL on a PC, when I was taught COBOL it was on a desktop PC (an old 486, yes it was a while ago) In some flavours of COBOL you can even do Windows API calls.  Some simply translate the COBOL into C and compile the C code for execution, try avoid these translators if you can, they can add unneeded complications if the translator mistranslates and then the C code won't compile.  You want to learn COBOL not C.  The manual I got while learning was quite good, I will dig around and see if I still have it to give you the title, although it's probably out of print.  BTW The most common flavour of COBOL in use today is COBOL 85, not all that much difference though so don't stress if you can't get a compiler for that flavour.  Also if you have some cash to spare you can buy the .Net COBOL addon which allows you to write COBOL for the .Net platform.
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