what is c programming language

what is c

The C language has been developed by Dennis Ritchie to build system applications that interacts directly with hardware devices for examples drivers, kernels, etc.

C is general-purpose programming language that is grossly popular, simple and flexible to use. C is a structured programming language that is machine-independent and it is broadly used for writing various applications and operating systems such as Windows, Linux and many other complex programs such as the Oracle database, Git, Python interpreter, and much more.

C programming is considered to be the basis of other programming languages, hence it is known as mother language. If you know 'C', then you can easily understand the knowledge of other programming languages that use the concept of 'C'.

It is necessary to have a background in computer memory mechanisms as this is an important aspect when working with the C programming language.

It can be defined by the following ways:

  • Mother language.
  • System programming language.
  • Procedure-oriented programming language.
  • Structured programming language.
  • Mid-level programming language.

Why learn C Language?

As we read earlier, 'C' is the base language for many programming languages. Therefore, learning 'C' as the main language will play an important role when studying other programming languages.

It shares similar concepts such as data types, operators, control descriptions, and more. 'C' can be widely used in various applications.

It is a simple language and provides fast execution. There are many jobs available for the 'C' developer in the current market.

'C' is a structured programming language in which the program is divided into various modules. Each module can be written separately and together it forms a 'C' program. This structure makes the testing, maintenance and debugging processes easier.

'C' has 32 keywords, different data types, and a set of powerful built-in functions that make programming very efficient.

Another feature of 'C' programming is that it can expand itself. A 'C' program has various functions that are part of a library. We can add our own features and functions to the library. We can access and use these functions while we want in our program. This feature simplifies this when working with complex programming.

There are various compilers available in the market that can be used to execute programs written in this language.

It is a highly portable language which means that programs written in 'C' language can run on other machines. This feature is required if we want to use or execute code on another computer.

Where is C used? Key Applications

  • The 'C' language is widely used in embedded systems.
  • It is used for the development of system applications.
  • It is widely used for the development of desktop applications.
  • Most applications have been developed by Adobe using the 'C' programming language.
  • It is used to develop browsers and their extensions. Google's Chromium is built using the 'C' programming language.
  • It is used to develop a database. MySQL is the most popular database software built using 'C'.
  • It is used in developing operating systems. Operating systems such as Apple's OS X, Microsoft's Windows and Symbian have been developed using the 'C' language. It is used to develop desktop as well as mobile phone operating systems.
  • It is used for compiler production.
  • It is widely used in IoT applications.

How C Programming Language Works?

C is a compiled language. A compiler is a specialized tool that compiles a program and converts it into an object file that is machine-readable.

After the compilation process, the linker will combine the different object files and build a single executable file to run the programs. The following diagram shows the execution of a 'C' program.

Nowadays, different compilers are available online, and users can use any of these compilers. The functionality will never vary and most compilers will provide the necessary features to execute both 'C' and 'C ++' programs.

Following is list of popular compilers available online:

  • Clang compiler
  • MinGW compiler (Minimalist GNU for Windows)
  • Portable 'C' compiler
  • Turbo C

features of c language

C is a widely used language. It provides several features which are given below.

  • Simple
  • Machine Independent or Portable.
  • Mid-level programming language
  • structured programming language
  • Rich Library
  • Memory Management
  • Fast Speed
  • Pointers
  • Recursion
  • Extensible.

History of C language

It is interesting to know the history of C language. Here we are going to discuss the short history of c language.

The basis or parent of programming languages is 'ALGOL'. It was first introduced in 1960. 'ALGOL' was used extensively in European countries. 'ALGOL' introduced concept of structured programming to the developer community. In 1967, a new computer programming language was announced, called 'BCPL', which stands for the original combined programming language. BCPL was designed and developed by Martin Richards, particularly for writing system software. This was the era of programming languages. Three years later, in 1970, a new programming language called 'B' was introduced by Ken Thompson which included many features of 'BCPL'. This programming language was created using the Unix operating system at AT&T and Bell Laboratories. Both 'BCPL' and 'B' were system programming languages.

In 1972, Dennis Ritchie, a great computer scientist, created a new programming language called 'C' at Bell Laboratories. It was created from the programming languages 'ALGOL', 'BCPL' and 'B'. The 'C' programming language includes all the features of these languages and many additional concepts that make it unique from other languages.

'C' is a powerful programming language strongly associated with the Unix operating system. Even most Unix operating systems are coded in 'C'. Initially 'C' programming was limited to the Unix operating system, but as it began to spread around the world, it became commercial, and many compilers were released for cross-platform systems.

Today, 'C' runs under a variety of operating systems and hardware platforms. As it began to develop, several different versions of the language were released. Sometimes it becomes difficult for developers to keep up with the latest version because the systems were running under older versions.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) defined a commercial standard for the 'C' language in 1989 to ensure that the 'C' language would remain the standard. Later in 1990 year, C was approved by the ISO (International Standards Organization). The 'C' programming language is also known as 'ANSI C'.

Languages like C ++ / Java have evolved from 'C'. These languages are widely used in various technologies. Thus, 'C' forms the basis for many other languages that are currently in use. It was developed to overcome the issues of previous languages such as B, BCPL, etc. Initially, the C language was developed to be used in the UNIX operating system. It inherited many features of previous languages such as B and BCPL. Let's look at the programming languages that were developed before the C language.

table upside

Language Year Developed By
Algol 1960 International Group
BCPL1967Martin Richard
B1970Ken Thompson
Traditional C1972Dennis Ritchie
K & R C1978Kernighan & Dennis Ritchie
ANSI C1989ANSI Committee
ANSI/ISO C1990ISO Committee
C991999Standardization Committee