C is a powerful flexible, portable and elegantly structured programming language. Since C combines the features of high-level language with the elements of the assembler, it is suitable for both systems and applications programming. It is undoubtedly the most widely used general-purpose language today.
Since its standardization in 1989, C has undergone a series of changes and improvements in order to enhance the usefulness of the language. The version that incorporates the new features is now referred to as C99.
The increasing popularity of C is probably due to its many desirable qualities. It is a robust language whose rich set of built-in functions and operators can be used to write any complex program. The C compiler combines the capabilities of an assembly language with the features of a high-level language and therefore it is well suited for writing both system software and business packages. In fact, many of the C compiler available in the market are written in C.
Programs written in C are efficient and fast. This is due to its variety of data types and powerful operators. It is many times faster than BASIC. For example, a program to increment a variable from 0 to 15000 takes about one second in C while it takes more than 50 seconds in an interpreted BASIC.
There are only 32 keywords in C are also called Reserved words and its strength lies in its built-in functions. Several standard functions are available which can be used for developing programs.
C is highly portable. This means that C programs written for one computer can be run on another with little or no modification. Portability is important if we plan to use a new computer with a different operating system.
C language is well suited for structured programming, thus requiring the user to think of a problem in terms of function modules or block. A proper collection of these modules would make a complete program. This modular structure makes program debugging, testing and maintenance easier.