C is the mother of many popular languages, including Objective-C, Java, and C++. Even scripting languages such as Perl owe much to this venerable old workhorse. C began its journey to greatness at Bell Labs in 1969, where Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie created it. It was used to write the first Unix operating system, from which Mac OS X ultimately descends. Other operating systems, like Windows and Mac OS, also owe a lot to C.
In 1989, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published the first official standard for C. C was already very popular by this time, but standardization is always an important point in the history of a programming language. Before this, a watershed book by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, C Programming Language (Prentice Hall), had become the de facto standard for C. In 1999, the International Standards Organization (ISO) published an update to the 1989 standard, known to developers as C99.
These days, C is used as a modern assembler. C was one of the first high-level languages, but relative to more modern programming languages such as Objective-C and Java, it is actually quite low level. For programmers, it has transplanted much of the functionality of assembler and is often only used when performance is critical.
Assembler is a very low-level language that is normally used only by computers as an intermediate step to producing object code, which can be run by the computer's CPU. In the early days of computers — sometimes ...