All members of the CoCoLab team have been working at the "GMD Forschungsstelle at the University of Karlsruhe", either as employees or as students. Between 1988 and 1993 first versions of the Cocktail Toolbox were developed at the GMD Forschungsstelle. The motivation was to create more and better tools for compiler construction as have been available on Unix (Lex, Yacc) and as have been existing at the University of Karlsruhe (PGS, GAG, CGSS). In 1992 and 1993 some versions of Cocktail were provided via the Internet which are still available for free. At the end of 1993 the GMD Forschungsstelle was closed. Josef Grosch managed to get the legal rights for the Cocktail Toolbox and founded CoCoLab in 1994. The Cocktail Toolbox was the first commercial product of CoCoLab. The name CoCoLab stands for Compiler Compiler Laboratory.
Meanwhile the "GMD National Research Center for Information Technology" has merged with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.