History of the C++ language

In this first C++ programming language tutorial we are going to look at the history of the C++ language.

The C programming language was devised in the early 1970s by Dennis M. Ritchie an employee from Bell Labs (AT&T). (To view a brief history of the C language; click here).

Many other programming languages are derived from the C language. Some did well and some did not. The languages Objective-C and C++ for instance are derived from the C language.  Both languages add the “object oriented” element to the language C. One of the most recent languages, that used much of the C language, is Java.

The programming language C++ (originally named “C with Classes”) was devised by Bjarne Stroustrup also an employee from Bell Labs (AT&T). Stroustrup started working on C with Classes in 1979.

The idea of creating a new language originated from a wish, to do things, that were not possible with other languages. He had experience with the language Simula and BCPL (Simula is a slow language, but it had some features that were very helpful for large software development projects. BCPL was to low-level). So he chose to enhance the C language with Simula-like features, because the C language was fast and portable. Stroustrup did not only use features from Simula but also borrowed features from the languages Ada, CLU, ALGOL 68 and ML.

In 1983, the name of the language was changed from C with Classes to C++. (The ++ is C language operator). The first commercial release of the C++ language was in October of 1985. At the same time, the first edition of the book “The C++ Programming Language” was released. (Keep in mind that there was no official standard at that time. So the book became an important reference to the language). In 1989, version 2.0 was released of the C++ language.

In 1990, “The Annotated C++ Reference Manual” was published. This work became the basis for the future standard. (Keep in mind that there were additions to the language after 1990). In 1998, a joint ANSI-ISO committee standardized the C++ language.

As you can see it took a long time (almost 20 years) to come to a standardized version of the language. In 2003 the committee published a corrected version of the C++ standard. The last addition was in 2005. (The last addition is
not part of the standard, it is a so called “Library Technical Report”. (TR1 for short).

Keep in mind that not all compilers support TR1, but support for TR1 in compilers is growing).

Below a photograph of Bjarne Stroustrup:
Bjarne Stroustrup

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