ARCHIVED: What are the C and C++ programming languages?

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Developed in parallel with Unix at Bell Laboratories, C descended from the BCPL and B languages in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For much of its early history, C was closely associated with Unix, but since the release of the ANSI C standard in the mid-1980s, it has become an established tool on other platforms as well.

Because it doesn't include many high-level language constructs, and allows relatively direct access to the physical computer and operating system, C is often referred to as a high-level assembly language. Some details, such as memory allocation and the declaration of variables, require more attention in C than in many other high-level languages. While this is often frustrating and occasionally results in programs that crash spectacularly, it also makes C a very flexible and precise tool in the hands of a skilled programmer.

C++, developed in the mid-1980s at AT&T, is C's most popular descendant. It has a stricter and more complex syntactic structure and incorporates elements of object-oriented programming. Since C++ is in large part a superset of C, many C++ compilers are also capable of handling C source code.

Some languages have been derived from C, including Objective-C and CC++. Many other programming tools have been influenced by C, including Java, the Unix C-shell, and Perl.

A number of C and C++ development environments are available; for information on some of them, see:

For an excellent online introduction to C, visit Steve Summit's C Programming web site at:

Also, consult the following newsgroups:


You should consult the FAQs for these newsgroups first. To locate them, see the Knowledge Base document ARCHIVED: Where can I find a repository of Usenet FAQ files?

This is document aewf in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 12:23:07.