Introduction to C Language

In this blog, you will be introduced to the C programming language.

One of the oldest languages, C is a general-purpose procedure-oriented programming language. It was developed by Dennis M. Ritchie in 1972, at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. It is the successor to B language and was developed to build the Unix operating system. Along with Unix, it became highly popular in the market during the 1980s. Some key characteristics of C are machine-independence, flexibility, an easy set of keywords, and user-friendliness. It has also become the basis for various other languages, and was standardized by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) in 1989 and the ISO (International Organization of Standardization).

When it was created, C was a better language than its preceding languages by a long shot. Listed below are the qualities of the language that can be counted as its advantages, and that helped it become so well-liked.

  • One of its most important features is portability. It can be used on any machine with little to no changes in the code.

  • It is a structured programming language, that is, the complex programs can be divided into simpler ones, called functions.

  • It boasts a rich library with a vast collection of in-built functions.

  • It has the ability to extend itself, which means that the users are allowed to add their own functions in their programs.

  • C uses only 32 keywords, and they are simple and easy to learn and work with.

  • It is a middle level language, which means it bridges the gap between the high level languages and the low level languages, and combines the features of both.

  • It provides dynamic memory allocation. Dynamic memory allocation allows you to assign memory during the run time of a program.

  • C is faster than a lot of other languages. Programs written in this language are executed very quickly.

It is a very powerful and efficient language, which can be proven by the fact that it still maintains its spot on the list of the most popular programming languages of the world. But even a language as robust as C has its disadvantages, some of which are —

  • It does not support the concepts of object oriented programming, or OOPs, like inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation, data abstraction etc. It is purely a procedure oriented language.

  • There is no run time type checking, that is, if the data entered during the run time of the program is of the wrong data type, it does not generate an error message.

  • It does not support constructors and destructors like C++ does.

  • C does not provide the namespace feature. Without namespace, the declaration of two variables of the same name is not possible.

  • An important feature that C lacks is the exception handling. Exception handling allows the user to catch errors and bugs in the program during compile time. But C does not support this.

Even with these drawbacks, the common opinion that C is obsolete or out of date is completely wrong. Modern software developers make extensive use of it in several places. It remains in demand in the IT industry. Some applications of C are as follows —

  • The primary use of C is the development of operating systems. Unix operating system was completely created with

  • C is considered the best language for embedded systems, as it works closely with the machine hardware.

  • C is used to create GUIs, which stands for Graphical User Interface. Adobe Photoshop has been created using C.

  • A number of other programming languages have been derived from C, including, but not limited to, C++, which is almost a superset of C.

  • C is a middle level language, and because of that, it is used to create compilers for other programming languages.

  • C even finds multiple uses in the gaming and animation sector.

  • Database and spreadsheet softwares can be developed using C.

  • Internet browsers can be built using C language. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are a couple of examples.

A lot of people start their programming career by learning C. In fact, it is a mandatory course in most of the universities. The following features of C make it a great language for beginners —

  • It is easy to understand and learn.

  • It provides an excellent understanding of the basics of programming. The concepts of data types, loops, functions, structures, pointers, etc. are introduced in C.

  • Programming in C helps develop reasoning and logical thinking abilities.

  • C is a widely used language, so having this skill will surely be beneficial in future.

  • After learning C, learning other languages like C++, Java, Python, etc. becomes incredibly easy.

Coding is quickly becoming a necessary skill in so many different professions, and C might be just the language to begin your own programming journey. So, if you’re ready to start, you can easily download IDEs (integrated development environments) such as Turbo C/C++, Dev C++, Eclipse or any other IDE of your choice that supports C. Kick off with the classic program to print the message ‘Hello world’ given below.

Happy coding!

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