C is a general-purpose, high-level programming language. Created at Bell Labs in the 1970s, its developers first used it to write programs for the Unix operating system. C is very efficient at using a computer's memory. It also gives programmers more direct access to a computer's hardware than other high-level languages. For those reasons, it is now widely used to write operating system kernels and device drivers.

C is an early example of a structured programming language, which divides a larger program into smaller modules or functions. Structured languages are easier to manage and reduce the complexity of the program's source code. It is also a compiled compiled language that requires a program's source code to be compiled into machine language before it can run.

Since its introduction, C has inspired other programming languages. C++, Java, Objective-C, and C# are object-orientated languages heavily influenced by C. Many other languages base their syntax on C, including JavaScript, PHP, and Perl.

Updated March 21, 2023 by Brian P.

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