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What Is The C Programming Language?

The C programming language is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. The C language can be used to develop native apps with a dedicated C IDE or a C++ IDE for Windows like C++ Builder and Dev-C++. Yes, even though C++ Builder is designed to work with C++ programs it is possible to code and compile C programs with it.

The C language remains very popular on all platforms such Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, and others such as IoT systems. But what do we mean by C programming? Why are C and C++ still so popular? How can we develop C apps?

When was the C programming language invented?

The C Programming Language was developed and first documented in the 1970s. Since 1970, there have been many more programming languages emerge and the C language itself has experienced many changes from its original format. The C++ programming language incorporates the C language at its heart but takes C a little further by adding object oriented programming features like classes, objects and methods. Still, the venerable C language is still popular, frequently appearing in the top 3 programming language choices. If we consider its other variations and its usage on microchips and IoTs it is the most used programming language worldwide.

Here is a C example of a screenshot from the RAD Studio / C++ Builder 11.1.5 IDE which can be used to write programs in both the C and C++ programming languages.

What Is The C Programming Language?  - an image of the C++ Builder IDE with a hello world C program in it
RAD Studio / C++ Builder 11.1.5 IDE with C Codes

What are the benefits of the C programming language?

There are two types of programming languages: interpreted and non-interpreted (compiled). All computers work with machine code, code that can be directly programmed by assembler codes, that tells the computer what to do; exe files are this kind of file albeit with some additional information for section relocations and headers. This is the most native and fastest code, but it requires writing many lines for simple things and is hard to generalize for all kinds of machines. A compiler such as a C or C++ compiler is a computer program that converts one programming language i.e., C/C++ code written with text into executable machine code with a linker.

Here is an example of C code:

Such code may not be as fast as assembler code, but the difference in speed is very small because both machine code and compiler-based code in text form are much more compatible with other CPU/GPUs and/or with other Operating Systems when you compile them on a machine. This is one reason why C++ is the fastest and most powerful programming language. Interpreted programming languages run inside executable applications like Java, Python, or Visual Basic. This is why they are slower when executing operations, as they need to use compiled libraries for faster operations. Again, they mostly use C/C++ compilers to build these libraries. Using an interpreted programming language is like being carried by a runner, while a compiled (non-interpreted) programming language is like running itself. This subtle difference turns into a huge gap when you run the same routine for example in face recognition, millions of times a millisecond.

What is the C programming language? A short history of the C language

Before the C programming language there was a B programming language. The B Programming Language is a programming language that developed at Bell Labs circa 1969 by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. After this successful B Programming language, the C Programming Language was developed in 1970’s and originally developed at Bell Labs by Dennis Ritchie between 1972 and 1973 to construct utilities running on Unix. It was applied to re-implementing the kernel of the Unix operating system

What Is The C Programming Language? The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie started it all
The C Programming Language 1st edition cover Source: Wikimedia

1970

Dennis Ritchie, based at Bell Laboratories, created the C Programming language. C is a procedural computer programming language supporting structured programming, lexical variable scope, and recursion, with a static type system. The C programming keywords and structures map code very efficiently to typical low-level machine instructions. It was easy to create more generalized code than it was in assembly language, and this encouraged the adoption and spread of the C programming language as a viable alternative to the more cumbersome and onerous assembly instructions with minimal compromises. In the years following the introduction of the C++ programming language, it became widely used for a broad range of general and specialized purposes including operating systems and various application software that targeted computer architectures ranging from supercomputers to PLCs and embedded systems.

1980

In the early 1980′s, also at Bell Laboratories, another programming language was being developed which was based upon the C language. This was an extension to C Language which will later go on to be called C++.

Meanwhile, Objective-C was created primarily by Brad Cox and Tom Love in the early 1980s at their company Productivity Products International (PPI). Objective-C later became adopted by Apple Computer as their primary programming language, supplanting their Apple-flavored object-orientated version of Pascal called Object-Pascal (often simply called “Apple Pascal”).

Around these years there were new C compilers on Amiga computers. These were Lattice C, Aztec C, SAS-C compilers. Actually SAS-C was a really great C and C++ compiler used with IBM computers such as the IBM® System/390TM mainframes, as well as end-consumer machines such as Amiga computers too.

1983

C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at AT & T Bell Laboratories in Murry Hill, New Jersey (USA) in 1983. In C the increment operator is a double set of + symbols therefore C++ was “Incremented C” means Extension to C. That means after this year C language has been included in all C++ programming languages. For more details of programming history of C and C++ you can read this article.

What Is The C Programming Language?. A person with a think bubble above their head with a question mark in it.

Jump to the present day – what is C programming in 2022?

Since 1983 C++ has gradually overshadowed the C programming language. However, there is still a lot of code written in the classic C language, and these can be compiled with C++ compilers and IDEs. Sometimes we combine and use C functions in the methods of C++ classes. Generally, a C++ compiler can also compile C language-specific commands. That perhaps should not be too much of a surprise since most of the standard C++ commands like for()while()printf() actually come from the C language.

The C++ Compiler and C++ IDE features really evolved from the early and auspicious beginnings of Turbo C, C++ and Borland C++. Today we have a wide array of features supporting a rich and diverse amount of OS platforms running on thousands of types of devices encompassing everything from cell phones, watches, cars to a broad collection of IoT (internet of things) specialized hardware.

How does the C programming language rank in the world against others?

C and C++ Compilers are great tools to develop when they are paired with a professional C++ IDE for Windows app development. According to the TIOBE Index and parallel to these results in many true statistic web sites, the C and C++ programming language have more than 23+% share in total, C language has more than 13.13% share and if you add Objective-C, Swift, and other C and C++ related programming languages it has about more than 33% share in worldwide and note that these are recorded from online data only.

There might be more C and C++ developers if we include those kinds of other operating systems which are offline or embedded systems and not included in these records.

Which C++ and C programming language IDE should I use?

cbuilder_11_512x5121x-6842885-6973897

C++ Builder (Current version is 11.1.5) is the easiest and fastest C and C++ IDE for building simple or professional applications on the Windows, iOS & Android operating systems. It is also easy for beginners to learn with its wide range of samples, tutorials, help files and LSP support for code. C++ Builder comes with Rapid Application Development Studio, also known as RAD Studio, and C++ Builder is one of the most professional IDE’s that work under RAD Studio. It is the oldest IDE (it began as Borland TurboC in 1990 and was later renamed Borland C++ Builder). Under the Embarcadero brand, it comes with new versions, features, updates, and support. RAD Studio’s C++ Builder version comes with the award-winning VCL framework for high-performance native Windows apps and the powerful FireMonkey (FMX) framework for cross-platform UIs. There is a free C++ Builder Community Edition for students, beginners, and startups.

In 2022, Embarcadero announced the RAD Studio and C++ Builder 11.1.5 . C++ Builder 11.1.5 contains a number of improvements and quality fixes for C++ developers using C++Builder and RAD Studio 11.1, including performance improvements, display of code completion results, improved navigation, as well as a variety of quality fixes including resolving an issue for users of the classic compiler, issues saving all files in a project, and more. There are also several new features, including handling multiple navigation destinations when Control-clicking on an identifier, delayed indexing to reduce CPU usage, and a third option for LSP Code Insight behavior which indexes all files in all projects. We recommend reading the documentation on configuring C++ Code Insight in order to tune its behavior for your projects and needs. RAD Studio 11 versions are introduced several new features, enhancements, and quality updates in key areas including:   

  • Provision apps for Windows 11
  • Compile for Android API 30
  • Compile for macOS M-series (Apple Silicon) processors
  • Design on high-DPI 4k+ screens
  • View VCL Styles in design time
  • New & modernized VCL components  
  • Use enhanced remote desktop support to collaborate remotely 


You can download the free C++ Builder Community Edition today.

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About author

33+ years of coding with more than 30+ programming languages, mostly C++ on Windows, Android, Mac-OS, iOS, Linux and some other operating systems. Dr. Yilmaz Yoru was born in 1974, Eskisehir-Turkey. He graduated from the department of Mechanical Engineering of Eskisehir Osmangazi University in 1997. One year later he started to work in the same university as an assistant. He received his MSc and PhD degrees from the same department of the same university. He has married and he is a father of a son. Some of his interests are Programming, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Artificial Intelligence. He also likes the graphical 2D & 3D design and high-end innovations.
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