1972 History of C Language

Historically, C was developed at Bell Laboratories as a system programming language to implement a new operating system on a DEP PDP-11 minicomputer. The project began in 1972, and a language description was published six years later (Kernighan and Ritchie, 1978) [C is a compact terse programming language that includes data types, data separations, the ability to manipulate addresses, and uncomplicated but complete set of flow control constructions.

In 1983, the American National Standards Institute formed a committee to produce a C programming language standard. This "ANSI C" was completed in 1988, and was expected to be approved by March 1989. [Major new features of this standard are function prototyping, a more fully library of support function program locales (i.e. support for local practices such as date and time presentation, monetary values, etc.), preprocessing directives, and an ability to create and manage "characters" that are too large to store in one byte.

In parallel to the development of this standard, the original language description has been revised and reissued (Kernighan and Ritchie, 1988). Vendors of the several C compilers for microcomputers have already brought "ANSI C" compilers to market. Throughout its history, C has been closely associated with the UNIX operating system, with system programming in general, and with the challenge of writing "portable" code that can be easily transferred to any one of many target computers.

Muhammad Faisal Khan [Back to Timeline]