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[Page 8]

1.8. History of C and C++

C++ evolved from C, which evolved from two previous programming languages, BCPL and B. BCPL was developed in 1967 by Martin Richards as a language for writing operating-systems software and compilers for operating systems. Ken Thompson modeled many features in his language B after their counterparts in BCPL and used B to create early versions of the UNIX operating system at Bell Laboratories in 1970.

The C language was evolved from B by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Laboratories. C uses many important concepts of BCPL and B. C initially became widely known as the development language of the UNIX operating system. Today, most operating systems are written in C and/or C++. C is now available for most computers and is hardware independent. With careful design, it is possible to write C programs that are portable to most computers.

The widespread use of C with various kinds of computers (sometimes called hardware platforms) unfortunately led to many variations. This was a serious problem for program developers, who needed to write portable programs that would run on several platforms. A standard version of C was needed. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) cooperated with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to standardize C worldwide; the joint standard document was published in 1990 and is referred to as ANSI/ISO 9899: 1990.

Portability Tip 1.1

Because C is a standardized, hardware-independent, widely available language, applications written in C often can be run with little or no modification on a wide range of computer systems.

C++, an extension of C, was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in the early 1980s at Bell Laboratories. C++ provides a number of features that "spruce up" the C language, but more importantly, it provides capabilities for object-oriented programming.

A revolution is brewing in the software community. Building software quickly, correctly and economically remains an elusive goal, and this at a time when the demand for new and more powerful software is soaring. Objects are essentially reusable software components that model items in the real world. Software developers are discovering that using a modular, object-oriented design and implementation approach can make them much more productive than they can be with previous popular programming techniques. Object-oriented programs are easier to understand, correct and modify.

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