What is C Programming Language? - C Programming Language Tutorial

 What is C Programming Language? How To Learn Programming Language?

C is a general-purpose, high-level language that was originally developed by Dennis M. Ritchie to develop the UNIX operating system at Bell Labs. C was originally first implemented on the DEC PDP-11 computer in 1972. In 1978, Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie produced the first publicly available description of C, now known as the K&R standard. The UNIX operating system, the C compiler, and essentially all UNIX application programs have been written in C. C has now become a widely used professional language for various reasons −

Easy to learn

  • Structured language
  • It produces efficient programs
  • It can handle low-level activities
  • It can be compiled on a variety of computer platforms

Facts about C

  • C was invented to write an operating system called UNIX.
  • C is a successor of the B language which was introduced around the early 1970s.
  • The language was formalized in 1988 by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI).
  • The UNIX OS was totally written in C.
  • Today C is the most widely used and popular System Programming Language.
  • Most of the state-of-the-art software has been implemented using C.

Today's most popular Linux OS and RDBMS MySQL have been written in C.

How To Learn Programming Language?

Why use C?

C was initially used for system development work, particularly the programs that make up the operating system. C was adopted as a system development language because it produces code that runs nearly as fast as the code written in assembly language. Some examples of the use of C might be −

  • Operating Systems
  • Language Compilers
  • Assemblers
  • Text Editors
  • Print Spoolers
  • Network Drivers
  • Modern Programs
  • Databases
  • Language Interpreters
  • Utilities
  • C Programs

C program can vary from 3 lines to millions of lines and it should be written into one or more text files with the extension ".c"; for example, hello. c. You can use "vi", "vim" or any other text editor to write your C program into a file.

This tutorial assumes that you know how to edit a text file and how to write source code inside a program file.

Features of C programming:-

  • C is a Middle-level language. 
  • It is case-sensitive.
  • It is easy to extend.
  • Highly portable.
  • It is fast and efficient.
  • It is a more widely used language in operating systems and embedded systems.
  • It is a simple language.

Why C is a middle-level language?

To understand this let us first understand what higher and lower-level languages are for example.

A higher-level language would be the language that we humans speak like simple English and a lower-level language is that a computer can understand like a binary (1s and 0s) called machine language, while C is a middle-level language that is between the higher and lower level and is also called assembly language. It uses simple words from English like for, if, while, and include, and also symbols like +, ++, <, %, & to carry out tasks and to interact with our computer.

We Used C Language in the Following Areas:-

We can create an Operating System with the help of the C language. Mostly all operating systems are developed in C language like Unix, and Windows operating systems.

  • We can develop assemblers in the C language.
  • We can develop compilers in the C language.
  • Network Drivers are also created using the C language.
  • Text Editors are developed using the C language like Notepad++,gedit e.t.c.
  • Database Management Systems are developed using the C language like the oracle database.

Limitations of C language:-

  • No exception handling is done.
  • We can not reuse the code in the C language.
  • In C language, no run-time type checking is done.
  • C language doesn’t support Object-Oriented programming.

C programming is considered as the base for other programming languages, that is why it is known as the mother language.

It can be defined in the following ways:

  • Mother language
  • System programming language
  • Procedure-oriented programming language
  • Structured programming language
  • Mid-level programming language

1) C as a mother language

C language is considered as the mother language of all modern programming languages because most of the compilers, JVMs, Kernels, etc. are written in C language, and most of the programming languages follow C syntax, for example, C++, Java, C#, etc.

It provides the core concepts like the array

, strings

, functions

, file handling

, etc. that are being used in many languages like C++

, Java

, C#

, etc.

2) C as a system programming language

A system programming language is used to create system software. C language is a system programming language because it can be used to do low-level programming (for example driver and kernel). It is generally used to create hardware devices, OS, drivers, kernels, etc. For example, the Linux kernel is written in C.

It can't be used for internet programming like Java, .Net, PHP, etc.

3) C as a procedural language

  • A procedure is known as a function, method, routine, subroutine, etc. A procedural language specifies a series of steps for the program to solve the problem.
  • A procedural language breaks the program into functions, data structures, etc.
  • C is procedural language. In C, variables and function prototypes must be declared before being used.

4) C as a structured programming language

A structured programming language is a subset of the procedural language. Structure means to break a program into parts or blocks so that it may be easy to understand

In the C language, we break the program into parts using functions. It makes the program easier to understand and modify.

5) C as a mid-level programming language

  • C is considered a middle-level language because it supports the feature of both low-level and high-level languages.
  • C language program is converted into assembly code, it supports pointer arithmetic (low-level), but it is machine independent (a feature of high-level).
  • A Low-level language is specific to one machine, i.e., machine-dependent. It is machine-dependent, fast to run. But it is not easy to understand.
  • A High-Level language is not specific to one machine, i.e., machine-independent. It is easy to understand.

C Program

In this tutorial, all C programs are given with a C compiler so that you can quickly change the C program code.

File: main.c

#include <stdio.h>  

int main() {  

printf("Hello C Programming\n");  

return 0;  


A detailed description of the above program is given in the next chapters.

History of C Programming Language

C Programming Language Tutorial

C Programming Language Technical Interview Questions Answers

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