C Programming Language

By Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie,

Book cover of C Programming Language

Book description

This edition describes C as defined by the ANSI standard. This book is meant to help the reader learn how to program in C. The book assumes some familiarity with basic programming concepts like variables, assignment statements, loops, and functions. A novice programmer should be able to read along and…


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Why read it?

3 authors picked C Programming Language as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is the defining book on the C language, written by the authors of the language and published in 1978.

By the early 1980’s it became the standard for writing systems software, helped by the fact that the UNIX operating system was written in it. UNIX grew to become the world’s dominant operating system, running over 90% of the world’s web servers. 

By the time I encountered the language I already had programmed extensively in assembler, COBOL, FORTRAN, and other languages. I had written a commercial FORTRAN compiler. The language changed my world, and this book was unique then and…

C has been around forever, and most likely will be for much, much longer. Being able to read and understand C is crucial even if it is not the language of choice to write in these days.

Personally I see myself gaining appreciation for the design of a language by following the thoughts of the original authors and understanding what the intentions behind the design choices were, and this is what this book provides.

From Philipp's list on learning from programming classics.

Most heavy-duty Unix / Liniux programs are written in C or C++.  This book is the classic introduction to C. The information to page ratio is one of the highest I’ve ever seen; the book is dense but well worth the effort. The writing is clear and concise and this book has become the standard by which most other programming language books are judged.

In college, I read the first edition straight through in a few days. My head was spinning from so much information; I then read the book straight through a second time, and everything gelled. The…

From Arnold's list on for learning the Zen of Unix.

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