[TUHS] History of popularity of C

Toby Thain toby at telegraphics.com.au
Fri May 22 06:09:51 AEST 2020

On 2020-05-21 1:35 PM, arnold at skeeve.com wrote:
>> Toby Thain <toby at telegraphics.com.au> wrote:
>>> - inexpensive compiler availability was not very good until ~1990 or
>>> later, but C had been taking off like wildfire for 10 years before that
> PCC contributed to this. Everybody and their brother was porting Unix
> to their fancy new CPU architecture / hardware. All you had to do was
> bootstrap a cross-compiler version of PCC on a PDP-11 (or more likely
> Vax), then get Unix to boot and Voila.

> (I remember reading a paper about how Motorola did just that for
> the MC 680x0 family.)

Yes, but Johnson had already done the work. Imho compilers were still
considered pretty complex magic and you wouldn't lightly write one from

And yeah all the vendors wanted to get a compiler out with minimal
effort, which is why they often weren't very good.

> C and Unix were established in Academia and Industry well before 1990.
>> I get the impression that an important part of its popularity was how C
>> (and C++) became the language of choice on the PC, and displaced Pascal in
>> the process.
> C++ became the language of choice on the PC when MSFT started pushing
> its compiler and Visual Studio IDE.

That was much later.


> At least, this is my two cents.
> Arnold

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