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An Introduction To C

c coding language

What is C, and why is it so important in coding circles?

You’ve spent long enough browsing through articles, forums, beginner’s guides, introductory tutorials, and technology blogs to notice a very obvious pattern. Wherever you go, C will follow.

C, in computing terms, is a general purpose programming language, developed between 1969 and 1973, that has fingerprints on an enormous array of technology that we use today, hinting at just how deeply influential it continues to be. In terms of time, particularly in a technological environment, C might appear old, approaching obsolescence even, but to this very day, it is an invaluable tool and resource, adapting over time, and constantly evolving. It is incredibly difficult to summarise precisely what C is, particularly in a short article, but the salient facts are these:

  • C was invented in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie to write an operating system called UNIX.
  • C is a successor of B language which was introduced around 1970.
  • The language was formalised in 1988 by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI).
  • By 1973 the UNIX Operating system was almost entirely 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.

While that hints at the history of C as a vital software resource over the years, you might be here asking yourself about the modern, everyday implementation of the C language. If you operate within coding circles, in back-end development, or even visit the office cafeteria when the IT professionals are chatting, you will most likely understand the ubiquity of C.
C is one of the most widely used programming languages of all time, and C compilers are available for the majority of available computer architectures and operating systems. As a high-level language, it is everywhere. The fascinating thing about the system is the fact that, even with origins dating back to the early 70s, it has consistently evolved over time to adapt to the technological climate.

C is an ever-present general purpose programming language. In a world dominated by small screens and monitors, internet-based media, we will never escape the influence of C.

While C++ is acknowledged as a more modern language, derivatives can never emerge without an origin. In coding circles, it goes without saying, that C deeply impacted the technological environment. Many later languages have borrowed directly or indirectly from C, including D, Go, Rust, Java, JavaScript, Limbo, LPC, C#, Objective-C, Perl, PHP, Python, Verilog.

C may, outwardly at least, appear a difficult language to consider, but if you have aspirations to advance your own programming potential, it is definitely worth further investigation. Fluency in programming languages is an enormously valuable attribute that employers seek, and C, on its own, is ideal to start with, particularly if you want to understand how programming languages evolve over the years.

With programming languages, especially languages that continue to evolve over time in order to compete, there is never an end in sight.