[TUHS] History of popularity of C

Andy Kosela akosela at andykosela.com
Sat May 23 17:28:25 AEST 2020

On 5/23/20, Greg A. Woods <gwoods at acm.org> wrote:
> I would also argue that non-Unix C compilers actually drove the adoption
> curve of C.  Pascal tried to play catch-up, but just as with what
> happened to me in university where it was one of the teaching languages,
> C was just far more popular and though Pascal had a tiny head-start (in
> terms of first-published books/manuals), C overtook it and had far more
> staying power too (though indeed in the late 1980s there was a fair
> battle going on in the pc/mac/amiga/etc world for Pascal).

This is my recollection as well.  In the late 80s with the
introduction of really nice compilers for MS-DOS like Turbo C from
Borland (1987), Watcom C 6.0 (1988) and mature versions of Microsoft C
(which originally was based on Lattice C), the C future was

The documentation coming with those compilers were also excellent.  I
still have tons of reference books from that period.  It was a time
when almost everybody was using pure C.  I think C++ needed another
5-7 years to displace C in the application market.


More information about the TUHS mailing list