History of the C++ Programming Language

  • 1960s
    During the 1960s many new programming languages appeared. A popular language that was a precursor of C was ALGOL 60 which was developed as an alternative to FORTRAM, but included some concepts on structured programming which were later added to CPL and eventually C. ALGOL 60 was updated and released as ALGOL 68 which included data types that were later incorporated into C. Unfortunately ALGOL was a very abstract language and it was impractical for solving most commercial tasks.

  • 1963
    The language CPL (Combined Programming language) was released. It was an attempt to create a language which could handle many of the programming tasks that were difficult with ALGOL or FORTRAN. Unfortunately it was a very big language and that made it difficult to learn and implement.

  • 1967
    Martin Richards developed BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language). This was a much simpler language than CPL but kept most of the important features but, it too was a very abstract and large language.

  • 1970

    Ken Thompson, while working on developing the UNIX operating system at Bell Labs, created the B language. It was a port of BCPL for a specific machine and system (DEC PDP-7 and UNIX). He adapted it to suit his own specific programming needs, but it was limited. The most serious problem was that there was no way to compile the source code into executable code. It was an interpreted language (it was translated at run time) and thus was very slow. It just wasn’t adequate for developing an operating system.

  • 1971

    Dennis Ritchie, also from the Bell Labs team, began the development of a B compiler which could produce executable code for Thompson's B language. This "New B" was finally called C. It added new data types to the language (like char).

  • 1973
    Dennis Ritchie, added more improvements to the C language including better arrays, and pointers. C was more easily ported to other platforms because it was not really a high-level language. Languages like C are sometimes refered to as "medium-level languages" because they are between assembly and high-level languages in their capabilities. C was established as a prominent programming language with the publication of "the White Book", The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie. This became the de facto standard until the publication of formal ANSI standard (ANSI X3J11 committee) in 1989.
  • 1980
    Bjarne Stroustrup, from Bell labs, began the development of the C++ language.

  • 1983
    The name "C++" is formally adopted for the language. BTW: It was actually a play on words using the ++ increment operator from C.
  • 1985
    The first commercial release of the C++ language. The Publication of the first edition of the book "The C++ Programming Language" by Bjarne Stroustrup.

    During the 1980s the C++ language was being refined until it became a language with its own personality but was still compatible with and included all of the original C language.

  • 1989
    Publication of the formal ANSI standard C. A good part of the structured programming included in C was actually taken from the work being done on C++.
  • 1990s
    ANSI committee X3J16 began the development of a specific standard for C++. In this period C++ was greatly expanded in its use.
  • 1998
    Publication of the first standard for C++ by the ANSI committee. Today C++ is the preferred language for the development of professional applications on all platforms.
  • Coming Soon
    C++ has been evolving, and a new version of the standard, c++0x, is being developed to be published soon, with several new features.