C is a general-purpose computer programming language developed in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Telephone Laboratories for use with the Unix operating system.

Although C was designed for implementing system software, it is also widely used for developing portable application software.

C is one of the most popular programming languages of all time and there are very few computer architectures for which a C compiler does not exist.


The initial development of C occurred at AT&T Bell Labs between 1969 and 1973; according to Ritchie, the most creative period occurred in 1972. It was named "C" because its features were derived from an earlier language called "B", which according to Ken Thompson was a stripped-down version of the BCPL programming language.

The origin of C is closely tied to the development of the Unix operating system, originally implemented in assembly language on a PDP-7 by Ritchie and Thompson, incorporating several ideas from colleagues. Eventually they decided to port the operating system to a PDP-11. B’s inability to take advantage of some of the PDP-11’s features, notably byte addressability, led to the development of an early version of C.

The original PDP-11 version of the Unix system was developed in assembly language. By 1973, with the addition of struct types, the C language had become powerful enough that most of the Unix kernel was rewritten in C. This was one of the first operating system kernels implemented in a language other than assembly.

In 1978, Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie published the first edition of The C Programming Language

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) formed a committee in 1983 to establish a standard definition of C. This committee approved a version of C in 1989 which is known as ANSI C. With few exceptions, every modern C compiler has the ability to adhere to this standard. ANSI C was then approved by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in 1990.

Now, what about the name? Why it was named C, why not something else. The C language is so named because its predecessor was called B. The B language was developed by Ken Thompson of Bell Labs.

C has now become a widely used professional language for various reasons.

            Easy to learn

            Structured language

            It produces efficient programs.

            It can handle low-level activities.

            It can be compiled on a variety of computers.

Facts about C

              C was invented to write an operating system called UNIX.

            C is a successor of B language which was introduced around 1970

            The language was formalized in 1988 by the American National Standard Institue (ANSI).

            By 1973 UNIX OS almost totally written in C.

            Today C is the most widely used System Programming Language.

            Most of the state of the art software have been implemented using C

C Compilers

When you write any program in C language then to run that program you need to compile that program using a C Compiler which converts your program into a language understandable by a computer. This is called machine language (ie. binary format). So before proceeding, make sure you have C Compiler available at your computer.

If you are working over Unix or Linux then you can type gcc -v or cc -v and check the result. You can ask your system administrator or you can take help from anyone to identify an available C Compiler at your computer.


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