By 1960 a
hoarde of computer languages had come into existence,
almost each for a specific purpose. For example, COBOL for
Commercial Applications, FORTRAN for
Engineering and Scientific Applications and so on. At
this stage people started thinking that instead of
learning and using so many languages, each for a
different purpose, why not use only one language
which can program all possible applications.
Therefore, an international committee was set up to
develop such a language. This committee came out with
a language called ALGOL 60 . However,
ALGOL 60 never really became popular
because it seemed too abstract, too general. To
reduce this abstractness and generality, a new
language called Combined Programming Language(CPL) was developed
at Cambridge University. CPL was an
attempt to bring ALGOL 60 down to
earth. However, CPL turned out to be so big, having
so many features, that it was hard to learn and
difficult to implement.
The Next Step
Combined Programming Language (BPCL) , developed
by Martin Richards at Cambridge
University aimed to solve this problem by bringing
CPL down to its basic good features. But
unfortunately it turned out to be too less powerful
and too specific. Around same time a language called B was written
by Ken Thompson at AT &
T's Bell Labs, as a further simplification of CPL.
But like BCPL, B too turned out to be very specific.
Ritchie inherited the features of B and BCPL, added
some of his own and developed C. Ritchie's
achievement is the restoration of the generality in
BCPL and B, and still keeping it powerful.