History of C program

The history of C programming language is both rich and influential. Here’s a brief overview:

The 1960s, Setting the Stage:

  • 1960: ALGOL 60 emerges, introducing the block structure concept that would later influence C.
  • 1969: Ken Thompson creates B, a precursor to C, for developing the Unix system on the PDP-7.

Development at Bell Labs (1970-1972):

C was created by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in the early 1970s. It evolved from an earlier language called B, which was developed by Ken Thompson. The development of C started in 1970 and continued until 1972.

  • B: The predecessor to C, used to develop early Unix utilities. Simple but lacked expressiveness and data structures.
  • Example: B code for copying a file (clunky & verbose):
main() {
  int c;
  while ((c = getchar()) != EOF)

Introduction of UNIX (1972):

C was initially used for the development of the Unix operating system, which was also created at Bell Labs by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others. The portability of C made it easier to move Unix to different hardware platforms. In 1973, the Unix kernel was rewritten in C, solidifying its connection to the OS.

Publication of “The C Programming Language” (1978):

Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan published “The C Programming Language” in 1978. Often referred to as K&R C (after the authors’ initials), this book became the definitive reference for C programming. It contributed significantly to the widespread adoption of the language. C code for a simple calculator (demonstrating functions & user interaction), example:

#include <stdio.h>

int add(int x, int y) {
  return x + y;

int main() {
  int num1, num2;
  printf("Enter first number: ");
  scanf("%d", &num1);
  printf("Enter second number: ");
  scanf("%d", &num2);
  printf("Sum: %d\n", add(num1, num2));
  return 0;

Standardization (1983):

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established a committee in 1983 to standardize the C language. This effort resulted in the ANSI C standard, published in 1989. This standardization was crucial for ensuring consistency and portability across different platforms.

ISO C Standard (1990):

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted the ANSI C standard, making it an international standard known as ISO C. This standard has since undergone revisions, with the latest being ISO/IEC 9899:2018 (C18).

C99 Standard (1999):

The C99 standard introduced several new features to the language, including variable-length arrays, inline functions, and new data types. However, due to concerns about compatibility, some compilers and projects continued to use the earlier standards.

C11 Standard (2011):

The C11 standard, released in 2011, brought further enhancements to the language, such as multi-threading support, type-generic macros, and improved Unicode support. C code for creating a basic thread (demonstrating C11 features), example:

#include <pthread.h>

void *hello_thread(void *arg) {
  printf("Hello from a thread!\n");
  return NULL;

int main() {
  pthread_t thread;
  pthread_create(&thread, NULL, hello_thread, NULL);
  pthread_join(thread, NULL);
  return 0;

C17 Standard:

As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, there was no official C17 standard. However, subsequent updates may have occurred.

Influence on Other Languages:

C has had a profound impact on the development of other programming languages. Many modern programming languages, such as C++, Objective-C, and C#, have inherited syntax or concepts from C.

Popularity and Ubiquity:

C has remained popular due to its simplicity, efficiency, and close-to-hardware capabilities. It is widely used in systems programming, embedded systems, game development, and various other domains.


The development and standardization of C have played a pivotal role in the history of computer programming, and its legacy continues to influence programming languages and software development practices today.

These are just a few glimpses into C’s history. Each decade witnessed significant advancements, from language refinement to its impact on shaping the computing landscape. C’s legacy endures, remaining a crucial foundation for programmers and a testament to its enduring power and adaptability.

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