> Let's see, C became popular for one reason only -- it was almost
> mandatory for programming under Unix which was widespread (and
When C became popular, the other major choices were Pascal, Fortran,
Basic, and at some places, Lisp. Pascal suffered from numerous
problems for writing large programs. All of these problems
were solved by the compiler vendors, but you had to learn the
particular solutions for each compiler you had to use. Fortran was
ok, but typos were a big nuiscance, and at the time it wasn't
structured. Basic was not useful for serious programming.
Lisp at the time was not very useful for systems
programming, and no standards existed. Smalltalk was
not available and when available was unusably slow.
So the rise of C happened because it was the best
language available for practical reasons. It may
have had something to with Unix, but this doesn't
explain why it also became the language of choice
on systems such as VAX/VMS (where the vendor was
actively pushing a language called Bliss for all systems
A similar pheonomenon occurred in the PC world, which was
taken over by C. This was quite a surprising occurence for
the PC world. In early 80's, BYTE magazine covered
all languages it thought would be useful for the PC.
Smalltalk was deemed so important that it later on got
an article all to itself. C, somehow or the other,
didn't quite make it in the list of BYTE's languages.
The clear winner according to BYTE magazine was Pascal.
Yet by late 80's, most of PC programming had moved from
Pascal, Assembly and Basic to C and C++. The primary
reasons may have been the ability to do hardware manipulation
and memory accesses directly from C, thus saving the
programmer from having to use Assembly when speed was
not a concern.
So hype or the lack of it doesn't quite do it. People
choose languages for their own very sane reasons. Arguing
abilities and debating tricks of adherents have not proven
to be very effective, otherwise Lisp would be the most
widely used language today. It's not as if multi-million
dollar companies did not exist at one time to promote
Lisp. It's also not as if they lacked promotional
abilities or dedicated champions.