C is a general-purpose, imperative (procedural) programming language. A case sensitive language, C was designed initially for system development programming tasks. Common examples of the use of C include operating systems, language compilers, network drivers, databases and modern programs.
C programming, considered a ‘Middle Level’ programming language, is the most widely adopted computer coding option available owing to its ease of comprehension, efficient structure, and flexible compilation. Portable C programs can be compiled across a variety of computer platforms and operating systems.
The programming language was originally created by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Telephone Laboratories between 1969 and 1973 for the purpose of writing the Unix Operating System. C was a successor to the B language introduced in 1970. In 1989 the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standardized C and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) followed suit subsequently.
A C-based program includes a number of essential elements. Preprocessor commands ready a compiler for actual compilation. Functions are the mandatory building blocks of any C program.Variables hold complex data, numbers and strings for manipulation. Expressions combine variables and constants to create new results. A statement is a command that instructs the computer to take a specific action. Finally, comments are used to provide useful information inside a C program.
Many of the most popular operating systems continue to rely on the language. Microsoft Windows, boasting a global market share of approximately 90%, is programmed almost entirely in C. Linux Operating System, around since the mid-90s, is also predominantly C based. Even Apple’s Mac OS relies on its OS X Kernel primarily coded in C. Modern smartphones continue to be influenced by C programming with iOS, Android and Windows devices all reliant.
The C programming language is also dominant in database creation. Oracle, MYSQL, MYSQL Server and other popular databases are created using C syntax. Other applications include 3D movies (compiled using a combination of C and C++), and countless embedded systems. Microcontrollers or microprocessors power televisions, radios, modern cars and more. The applications and influence of C are almost limitless.
There are a number of features of C programming that have contributed to its widespread adoption. Some of the key features are outlined below:
- Portability of the compiler
- A structured yet elegant syntax
- Speed of execution
- Ability to handle low-level activities
- Easy to learn
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