C vs. C++ | How Are These Two Cs related?

C++ vs C

Between 1969 and 1973, Dennis Ritchie at AT&T Bell Labs developed a function-driven programming language, C. It was mainly used for running utilities on the Unix platform. 

Later, C served as a prototype for creating many other programming languages, including Java, PHP, Python, and C++.

So, before we jump into the more in-depth comparison of C vs. C++, let’s state that those two languages are tightly related, and C stands at the roots of the history of C++

Now, let’s dig deeper. 

What is C?

Date of creation: 1972

Creator: Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs

Initial purpose: To run on Unix operating system

Main characteristics: general-purpose, compiled, procedural 

What is C?

In programming communities, it’s accepted to call C the “God of Programming Languages” because, as mentioned earlier, it was the language behind creating many popular programming languages. C is statically typed and supports lexical variable scope, and though it initially was designed to work on Unix OS, it was later widely used on Windows. 

One of the key characteristics of the C programming language is that it has a low level of abstraction and is classified as a low or mid-level language. 

Over time, C gained wide popularity because of its versatility and understandable syntax. It’s used for developing various products, including operating systems, games, database software, etc.

It’s been over 40 years since the creation of C, and it’s still one of the most popular coding languages, which requires very little runtime support. 

What is C++? 

Date of creation: 1985

Creator: Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Labs

Initial purpose: To become a superset of C

Main characteristics: object-oriented, portable, universal

The history of C++ started when its creator Bjarne Str., was working on Bell Labs and wanted to create an extended version of C++. Bjarne developed C++ as he was preparing his thesis. 

One of the key additions of C++ over C was that it should also support object-oriented programming. However, though C++ reached that goal, it’s currently considered a hybrid language rather than a purely object-oriented one. 

Though C++ is the fact the prodigy of C, it managed to add significant capacities to C, including an extended set of library routines. It combines the features of both high-level and low-level coding language and is successfully used in creating many high-performing applications. What’s more, C++ introduced the concept of objects and classes that were not present in C. 

Although there are significant similarities in C vs. C++ comparison, the latter is often viewed as an independent coding language, which is highly demanded for creating cloud distributed systems, smartwatches, graphic applications, compilers, etc. 

C++ is a lightweight and compiled language, standing behind the global giants such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. 

Read our previous guide on C++ for more details

C vs C++ | Similarities

  • Simple syntax
  • Basic grammar
  • C’s operators and keywords
  • Compilation
  • Basic memory model
  • Static variables

C vs C++ | Differences

It is good for developing embedded devices and system-level codeIt is a better choice for developing server-side applications
Treats each piece of data as a separate entity and does not offer encapsulationAll data is bound together as one object and supports encapsulation
It is less secure, as all variables and open and vulnerable to data leakingVariable can be hidden in class and unavailable to those who use the function; therefore, more secure
As a subset of C++, most of the C’s code can run on C++As a superset of C, most of the C++’s code can’t run on C
It relies on procedural programming for developing productsUses both procedural and object-oriented paradigms
Follows the top-down approach, going from high-level design (main() function) to low-level design (subfunctions)Follows the bottom-up approach, which means the flow goes from low-level design to high-level design
As a hands-on programming language, it requires much of the programmer’s manual inputAs a highly-controlled object-oriented language is easier and faster to work with
52 reserved keywordsA total of 32 keywords
It does not allow for function or operator overloadingCan work with function and operator overloading
Supports in-built and primitive data types, not accepting user-defined data typesAccepts user-defined data types and rejects in-built and primitive data types
Focuses on methods and processes more than focusing on dataFocuses more on data rather than processes and methods
It does not use a namespace, though it’s possible to have name collisionsUses namespace and organizes code into separate logical groups

Well, so which one should you learn?

Before you decide which one to choose in C vs. C++ battle, here is a key fact that you should consider. 

C is the base of C++; therefore, you should invest time in at least grasping the basics of C if you want to understand C++ thoroughly. 

In which cases should you prefer C++ over C?

C++ is mostly designed for application development, which requires low-level processing. So, if you want to create a similar product or product that works directly with the hardware, choose to learn C++. 

Also, if you want to use a programming language that supports inheritance, encapsulation, and abstract, focus on C++.

However, it’s worth noting that in case your conducted projects are simpler or have a moderate scope, it’s better to use C, as it usually results in less overhead. 

Why is C++ so hard to learn?

That’s the question we often listen to, as there is a notion that learning C++ requires extra effort. The reason behind this assumption is that C++ is a large feature size and has many concepts. Therefore, students usually have to think long to figure out which function they should use for their desired result. 

However, if you choose a well-detailed online course, which provides you with interactive C++ lessons, you will stop asking the above question. 

Browse WildLearner’s FREE online courses.