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Linux Journal: Interview with Brian Kernighan

Jul 30, 2003, 13:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Aleksey Dolya)

"LJ: What was your part in the birth and destiny of the C language?

"BK: I had no part in the birth of C, period. It's entirely Dennis Ritchie's work. I wrote a tutorial on how to use C for people at Bell Labs, and I twisted Dennis's arm into writing a book with me. But, if he had been so motivated, he certainly could have done it without help. He's a superb writer, as one can tell from the C reference manuals, which are his prose, untouched. I've profited a great deal from being part of the book, and I treasure Dennis as a friend, but I didn't have anything to do with C.

"LJ: What do you think: is C a high level language?

"BK: C is perhaps the best balance of expressiveness and efficiency that has ever been seen in programming languages. At the time it was developed, efficiency mattered a great deal: machines were slow and had small memories, so one had to get close to the efficiency of assembler. C did this for system programming tasks--writing compilers, operating systems and tools..."

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