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C (programming language) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The C programming language is a computer programming language that was developed to do system programming for the operating system UNIX and is an imperative programming language. C was developed in the early 1970 by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. It is a procedural language, which means that people can write their programs as a series of step-by-step instructions. C is a compiled language.

Because the ideas behind C are kept close to the design of the computer, the compiler (program builder) can generate instructions for the computer that will run very fast. It is fast because it builds the program in machine code/native code. This makes C a good language for writing operating systems. Many operating systems, including Linux and UNIX, are programmed using this language. The language itself has very few keywords, and most things are done using libraries, which are collections of code for them to be reused.

C is available for many different types of computers. This is why C is called a "portable" language. A program that is written in C and that respects certain limitations can be compiled for many different platforms.

The syntax of C has also influenced many other programming languages, such as C++, C#, and Java, and many more programming languages we use nowadays.

Example code

Here is an example of a program written in C. When built and run, it will show "Hello world!", followed by a new line. on the computer screen.

 1 // This is a comment. It's for *people* to read, not computers. It's usually used to describe the program.
 3 // This "includes" the Standard Input-Output tools in the program.
 4 #include <stdio.h>
 6 // The main function
 7 int main(void) {
 8     // Prints "Hello world!" onto the screen, followed by a new line ("\n")
 9     printf("Hello world!\n");
11     // Tell the computer that the program ran successfully
12     return 0; //EXIT_SUCCESS
13 }

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