By Vangie Beal
A high-level programming language developed by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in the mid 1970s. Although originally designed as a systems programming language, C has proved to be a powerful and flexible language that can be used for a variety of applications, from business programs to engineering. C is a particularly popular language for personal computer programmers because it is relatively small — it requires less memory than other languages.
The first major program written in C was the UNIX operating system, and for many years C was considered to be inextricably linked with UNIX. Now, however, C is an important language independent of UNIX.
Although it is a high-level language, C is much closer to assembly language than are most other high-level languages. This closeness to the underlying machine language allows C programmers to write very efficient code. The low-level nature of C, however, can make the language difficult to use for some types of applications.