Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Help with the history of C language. BCPL
Name:  Gabster
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993

I would like to get some information on the history of the C language, especially dates and roots. Also, if possible, I would like to know more about the motivations of the authors for writing it etc... (what does BCPL stands for?) I realize that this is not exactly a computer science question, but I hope you can be helpful. Thanks.

The C language is a general-purpose programming language that was originally designed by Dennis Ritchie of Bell Laboratories and implemented there on a PDP-11 in 1972. It was first used as the systems language for the UNIX operating system. The developer of UNIX, Ken Thompson, had been using both assembler and a language named B to produce initial versions of UNIX in 1970. The invention of C came about to overcome the limitations of B. B was a programming language based on BCPL. BCPL was developed as a tapeless systems programming language, by Martin Richards. BCPL basic data type was the machine word, and it made heavy use of pointers and address arithmetic. C evolved from B and BCPL and incorporated typing. As for what BCPL stands for, I will have to get back to you on that.

Daniel Lee Luchinski

Click here to return to the Computer Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory