C++ (pronounced as cee plus plus, /ˈsiː plʌs plʌs/) is a general-purpose programming language. It has imperative, object-oriented and generic programming features, while also providing the facilities for low-level memory manipulation.
It is designed with a bias toward system programming (e.g., for use in embedded systems or operating system kernels), with performance, efficiency and flexibility of use as its design requirements. C++ has also been found useful in many other contexts, including desktop applications, servers (e.g. e-commerce, web search or SQL servers), performance-critical applications (e.g. telephone switches or space probes), and entertainment software. C++ is a compiled language, with implementations of it available on many platforms and provided by various organizations, including the FSF, LLVM, Microsoft and Intel.
C++ is standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), with the latest (and current) standard version ratified and published by ISO in December 2014 as ISO/IEC 14882:2014 (informally known as C++14). The C++ programming language was initially standardised in 1998 as ISO/IEC 14882:1998, which was then amended by the C++03, ISO/IEC 14882:2003, standard. The current C++14 standard supersedes these and C++11, with new features and an enlarged standard library. Before the initial standardization in 1998, C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs, starting in 1979, who wanted an efficient flexible language (like the C language), which also provided high-level features for program organization.
Many other programming languages have been influenced by C++, including C#, Java, and newer versions of C (after 1998).
Bjarne Stroustrup, a Danish computer scientist, began his work on C++'s predecessor "C with Classes" in 1979. The motivation for creating a new language originated from Stroustrup's experience in programming for his Ph.D. thesis. Stroustrup found that Simula had features that were very helpful for large software development, but the language was too slow for practical use, while BCPL was fast but too low-level to be suitable for large software development. When Stroustrup started working in AT&T Bell Labs, he had the problem of analyzing the UNIX kernel with respect to distributed computing. Remembering his Ph.D. experience, Stroustrup set out to enhance the C language with Simula-like features. C was chosen because it was general-purpose, fast, portable and widely used. As well as C and Simula's influences, other languages also influenced C++, including, ALGOL 68, Ada, CLU and ML.
Initially, the class, derived class, strong typing, inlining, and default argument features were added to C via Stroustrup's "C with Classes" to C compiler, Cpre.
In 1983, it was renamed from C with Classes to C++ (++ being the increment operator in C). New features were added including virtual functions, function name and operator overloading, references, constants, type-safe free-store memory allocation (new/delete), improved type checking, and BCPL style single-line comments with two forward slashes (//), as well as the development of a proper compiler for C++, Cfront.
In 1985, the first edition of The C++ Programming Language was released, which became the definitive reference for the language, as there was not yet an official standard. The first commercial implementation of C++ was released in October of the same year.
In 1989 C++ 2.0 was released followed by the updated second edition of The C++ Programming Language in 1991. New features in 2.0 included multiple inheritance, abstract classes, static member functions, const member functions, and protected members. In 1990, The Annotated C++ Reference Manual was published. This work became the basis for the future standard. Late feature additions included templates, exceptions, namespaces, new casts, and a boolean type.
In 2011, C++11 was released which added more features and enlarged the standard library further (compared to it in 1998), providing more facilities for C++ programmers to use, with more additions planned for 2014 and 2017.
According to Stroustrup: "the name signifies the evolutionary nature of the changes from C". This name is credited to Rick Mascitti (mid-1983) and was first used in December 1983.
When Mascitti was questioned informally in 1992 about the naming, he indicated that it was given in a tongue-in-cheek spirit. The name stems from C's "++" operator (which increments the value of a variable) and a common naming convention of using "+" to indicate an enhanced computer program. A joke goes that the name itself has a bug: due to the use of post-increment, which increments the value of the variable but evaluates to the unincremented value, so C++ is no better than C, and the pre-increment ++C form should have been used instead, so that C++ is better than C.
During C++'s development period, the language had been referred to as "new C", then "C with Classes", before acquiring its final name.
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