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Overview of C Language

Welcome to the tutorial series for C language. This is the best C language tutorial set on the Internet, that will help you learn the C language.

C language was developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972 at Bell Laboratories. In 1989, the C language was standardized, where C language features were defined, also known as the 1989 ANSI standard for C, and that is the reason, you will see C language also called C89, because of the 1989 ANSI standard.

The current latest version of the C language is C99, as some new features were added to the C language in 1999.

You must be thinking, 1999 was more than 20 years ago, but the C language is still very relevant and widely used although there are many other new languages like C++, Java, Python, C#, etc. in the market.

C Language is a middle-level, structured programming language, that needs a compiler for running the programs written in C language. Do not worry about these terms, we will cover all of them in detail in this tutorial.

History of C language

C language has evolved from three different structured languages ALGOL, BCPL, and B Language. It uses many concepts from these languages while introduced many new concepts such as datatypes, struct, pointer, etc.

BCPL was developed by Martin Richards, based on which the B language was created by Ken Thompson. And then the B language was the language using which the C language was created.

In 1989, the language was formalized by American National Standard Institute(ANSI).

In 1990, a version of the C language was approved by the International Standard Organisation(ISO), and that version of C is also referred to as C89.

History of C language

After the C language was accepted worldwide and programmers around the world started using it, soon, to improve C language further, the work on the development of C++ language started.

The idea behind creating C language was to create an easy language that requires a simple compiler (to translate the code from English to binary (0's and 1's that computer understands)) and to enable programmers to write complex programs in a language which is close to English because earlier programmers had to write Machine instructions which were very difficult to remember.

C language compiler converts the readable C language code into machine instructions.

Why is C Language so popular?

C language is a very good language to introduce yourself to the programming world, as it is a simple, and easy-to-learn language that is capable of doing wonders.

Programs that are written in C language take very little time to execute and almost execute at the speed of assembly language instructions. (Assembly level instructions are nothing but direct commands to communicate with computer's hardware)

Initially, C language was mainly used for writing system-level programs, like designing Operating Systems, because in the eighties (1980-89) the fight to make a stable, worldwide accepted operating system was going on.

But C language can be used to develop other applications as well, like Text Editors, Compilers, Network Drivers, many traditional PoS(Point of Sale) software like Restaurant Billing systems, etc.

Latest Version of C

The current latest version of the C language is C11, which was introduced in 2018. It is supported by all the standard C language compilers, but many compilers still do not support this.

Many new features have been introduced in this version, and an overall attempt to improve the compatibility of the C language with the C++ language has been made. We will learn about the C11 edition once we are done with learning the C language towards the end of this tutorial series.

The most widely used version of the C language is still C89 and C99.

What will we learn in this tutorial series?

In this tutorial series, we will cover all the concepts of the C programming language with code examples, simple explanations, and understanding the real-world use of the various concepts as we learn them.

Apart from the tutorials, we provide you rich set of C programs and C Interview MCQs so that you can test your knowledge parallelly.

You can also try writing C programs and run them in our online C Compiler, just log in and start using it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions, that beginners have when they start learning the C language.

1. What is the C language?

It is a computer programming language developed in the early 1970s by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at Bell Laboratories.

It is a programming language that was developed to do system programming for the operating system UNIX, but later it was used for developing software and programs for daily usage. It is still being used to develop operating systems and for creating system-level programs, by big tech companies (FAANG companies).

2. What are the features of the C language?

C is one of the most popular programming languages. It has many features:

  • Modularity: It allows the reusability of modules. It has header files with readymade functions that you can use.

  • Middle-Level language: It combines both the advantages of low-level and high-level languages. (C arrays, C Pointers, etc.)

  • General-purpose programming language: It can be used to implement any kind of application, just like Python. (Learn Python)

  • Portability: C program can be compiled or executed in any operating system (Unix, DOS, Windows). You can compile the program in Windows and then run it on a Unix machine, it will run without any issue.

  • Powerful programming language: It is a very efficient and powerful programming language. It is best used for data structures and designing system software.

  • C is a case-sensitive language.

We have listed down all the features of the C language in the next tutorial - Features of C Language

3. What is the C language used for?

It is amongst one of the most portable languages and is mainly used for creating system applications that form a major part of Windows, UNIX, and Linux operating systems.

C is a general-purpose programming language. It is used for enterprise applications, games, graphics, and applications requiring calculations, or simple software, etc.

4. Where is C used today?

C is used for developing operating systems and Kernel-level programs.

It is used for the production of Compiler. We can develop desktop as well as mobile phone operating systems with the help of C, for example Android.


This tutorial was all about an overview of the C language and its History. C was developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972 at AT and T's bell laboratories. In the next tutorial, we will learn about C language features in detail.