Saturday, July 25, 2020

C++'s history

The first implementation of C++ was developed in the 1980s at the AT&T Bell Labs, where the Unix operating system was created. C++ was originally a `pre-compiler', similar to the preprocessor of C, converting special constructions in its source code to plain C. Back then this code was compiled by a standard C compiler. The `pre-code', which was read by the C++ pre-compiler, was usually located in a file with the extension .cc, .C or .cpp. This file would then be converted to a C source file with the extension .c, which was thereupon compiled and linked. The nomenclature of C++ source files remains: the extensions .cc and .cpp are still used. However, the preliminary work of a C++ pre-compiler is nowadays usually performed during the actual compilation process. Often compilers determine the language used in a source file from its extension. This holds true for Borland's and Microsoft's C++ compilers, which assume a C++ source for an extension .cpp. The GNU compiler g++, which is available on many Unix platforms, assumes for C++ the extension .cc. The fact that C++ used to be compiled into C code is also visible from the fact that C++ is a superset of C: C++ offers the full C grammar and supports all C-library functions, and adds to this features of its own. This makes the transition from C to C++ quite easy. Programmers familiar with C may start `programming in C++' by using source files having extensions .cc or .cpp instead of .c, and may then comfortably slip into all the possibilities offered by C++. No abrupt change of habits is required.

Source: C++ Annotations Version 11.4.0 Frank B. Brokken University of Groningen, PO Box 407, 9700 AK Groningen The Netherlands Published at the University of Groningen
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