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C and C++ Brief History

  • C evolved from two previous languages, BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) and B. BCPL was developed in 1967 by Martin Richards as a language for writing operating systems software and compilers.
  • Ken Thompson modeled many features in his language, B, after their counterparts in BCPL and used B to create early versions of UNIX operating system at bell Laboratories in 1970 on a DEC PDP-7 computer.
  • Both BCPL and B were typeless languages, that means the only data type is machine word and access to other kinds of objects is by special operators or function calls.
  • In C, the fundamental data type includes characters (char), integers of several sizes (int) and floating point (float) numbers.
  • The derived data types were created with pointers, arrays, structures, unions, functions and classes.
  • The C language was evolved from B by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Laboratories and was originally implemented on a DEC PDP-11 computer in 1972.
  • It was named C for new language.
  • Initially, C used widely as the development language of the UNIX.  Today, virtually all new major OS are written in C.
  • C is hardware independent, so it is portable to most computers without or with little code modification.
  • The rapid expansion of C over various types of computers led to many variations.  These are similar but incompatible.
  • So, a standard version of C was needed.  In 1983, the X3J11 technical committee was created under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Committee on Computer and Information Processing (X3) to provide an unambiguous and machine-independent definition of the language and approved in 1989, called ANSI C.
  • The document is referred to as ANSI/ISO 9899:1990.
  • The second edition of Kernighan and Ritchie, published in 1988, reflects this version called ANSI C, then used worldwide.
  • The more general ANSI then adopted by ISO/IEC, known as ISO/IEC C. Historically, from ISO/IEC, C programming language evolved from C89/C90/C95, C99 and the latest is C11.
  • Because C is a hardware-independent, applications written in C can be run with little or no modifications on a wide range of different computer systems.

1.2    C and C++ Advantageous

  • Powerful and flexible language – What can be achieved is only limited by your imagination.  It is used for Operating System, compilers, parsers, interpreters, word processors, search engine and graphic programs.
  • Portable programming language – C program written for one computer system (an IBM PC, for example) can be compiled and run on another system (a DEC VAX Systemperhaps with little or no modification).
  • Is a language of less keyword – Handful of terms called keywords in which the language’s functionality is built.  A lot of keywords doesn’t mean more powerful than C.
  • Modular – Written in routines called functions and classes (C++), can be reused in other applications or programs.
  • Preferred by professional programmers – So, a variety of C/C++ resources and helpful supports are widely available.
  • Standardized – Many standards have been documented, maintained and updated for C and C++ as standard references for solving the portability and many other issues. For example, the latest version of standard C++ is C++11 (“C++0x“) and the older version is C++03.


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