An Intac survey, while lacking precisions about methodology, declared C the most popular programming language in 2010. Aside from changing every year, the usual suspects find their place in the hit parade.
C was developped mostly by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs, who derived it from BCPL. As the development of C was closely tied to UNIX (also written by Ken Thompson), both language and operating system co-evolved with Ritchie’s emphasis on portability, an important improvement in operating systems research:
BCPL, B, and C all fit firmly in the traditional procedural family typified by Fortran and Algol 60. They are particularly oriented towards system programming, are small and compactly described, and are amenable to translation by simple compilers. They are `close to the machine’ in that the abstractions they introduce are readily grounded in the concrete data types and operations supplied by conventional computers, and they rely on library routines for input-output and other interactions with an operating system. With less success, they also use library procedures to specify interesting control constructs such as coroutines and procedure closures. At the same time, their abstractions lie at a sufficiently high level that, with care, portability between machines can be achieved.
- The History of C, by Dennis Ritchie.