C - SPLessons

Chapter 2

C Language

C Language

C Language is a middle-level programming structured language developed by Dennis Ritchie at AT&T’s in 1972 at Bell Laboratories of USA.

C Language is a machine independent language i.e. it can be operated on any operating system(Linux, Unix etc).

History of C

In those early days, it was widely believed that serious OS development had to be done in assembly.But C put an end to that myth thanks to its relatively simple design and strong hardware affinity.C has changed little over the years a testament to the language’s brevity, that is, it’s not a big language.It may appear complex at first but this usually has more to do with previous experience than it does with C.

The history of C is very much tied to a book called “The C Programming Language” written by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie who worked on UNIX together.The book may not be regarded as standard edition for C, but the second edition covered 1989 ANSI standard definition of C.

C89 is the version used almost exclusively today and will focus on this course.It’s hard to know for certain why C is called C. It was somewhat influenced by a language called B but there was no A. B itself was a simpler version of BCPL which some C programmers jokingly insist that it stood for “Before C Programming Language.” BCPL was however based on CPL which officially stood for the Cambridge Programming Language since its designer was from Cambridge University. Ironically, his first name was Christopher and some maintain that the C in CPL stood for Christopher. So whether C is called C because it follows B or because there was once a guy named Christopher from Cambridge we may never know nor does it really matter.

Year Language Developer
1900 ALGOL International group
1967 BCPL Martin Richards
1970 B Ken Thompson
1972 Traditional C Dennis Ritchie
1978 K & RC Kernighan & Ritchie
1989 ANSI C ANSI Committee
1990 ANSI/ISO Committee ISO Committee
1999 C99 Standardization Committee

C is a multi-purpose programming language. It is not restricted to only web development in the case of Java script or data access in the case of SQL and is not tied to any specific operating system or associated with any particular company like Java is with Oracle and C Sharp is with Microsoft.

C Language is often called a System Programming Language due to its effectiveness in at producing operating systems and system tools like compilers and debuggers. C is unique among today’s languages because it abstracts the machine architecture, things like machines instructions, registers, and calling conventions.

It maintains a close relationship with a machine providing a very concise and efficient representation for the same types of primitives that machines themselves naturally deal with. Things like numbers, characters, and machine addresses are directly supported in C without any runtime cost.C-language can be referred as mother of all languages. Various computer languages were developed using C-language. Some of the applications of C-language are :


  • C Language is middle level language.
  • Developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972.
  • C language is portable and easy.