C hails from Bell Labs and was created nearly 50 years ago, back in 1972, by American computer scientist Dennis Ritchie. He also co-created the Unix operating system.
As ZDNet noted when Ritchie died in in 2011, C is the "heart of programming … as the quintessential expression of coding elegance, power, simplicity and portability." It's also a language that's close to the hardware, requires minimal memory, and doesn't necessitate a compiler for running on a processor.
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C, a general purpose language, accounted for 16.34% of all searches that Tiobe tracks across search engines including Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu. C in February 2021 was ahead of Java, Python, C's descendant C++, and Microsoft's C#.
These days, engineers at Amazon, Microsoft and Google are interested in Rust, a language created at Firefox-maker Mozilla, which promises to help correct some of the memory-related security issues that come with C and C++ code.
Nonetheless, C is a mainstay of the top 10 languages and is relatively stable compared to other languages, according to Tiobe chief Paul Jansen.
"Some say that the IT industry is changing continuously. Every day a new IT buzzword pops up somewhere. But if we take a closer look at the top 8 of the TIOBE index, it appears to be unchanged for the last 7 years," he said.
That doesn't this mean that the programming language world hasn't changed, he points out.
Jansen notes that the top 8 programming languages are stable, but positions 9 and 10 frequently change.
Languages that have occupied these positions include database language SQL, low-level Assembly, statistical language R, Java-friendly Groovy, Google's systems programming language Go, and Apple's app development language Swift.
The only notable change in Tiobe's February 2021 index is that Java dropped out of first place compared to last year. Java accounted for 11.29% of searches and declined 6.07% compared to this month last year.