Kernighan And Ritchie

Dennis developed C and with Brian wrote the definitive language reference. It was thin and to the point when the tradition was far more puffy. Hardly a manual is written today that doesn't mimic multiple aspects of K&R's style, not the least of which is the HelloWorld example.


I picked this up in 1982 at a fire sale (literally, my copy and several hundred others had been rescued from a fire at a university bookstore and still smelled of smoke several months later when I found it in a bargain bin at the local liquidator's). I learned C from it. Later, my father, who had mastered Fortran, RPG, PL/I and a host of other historical languages, admitted he had been unable to grok C. In retrospect, I think that says more about C than about my father. -- David Brantley

K&R is now on its second edition--which was published in 1988; shortly before the AnsiCee standard was published (but the contents of AnsiCee were well known). Now that AnsiCee has undergone a major revision--is a third edtion of K&R forthcoming? I would hope so. -- ScottJohnson

Back in 2000 DennisRitchie said that he and BrianKernighan were still considering whether to do a third edition. (http://www.itworld.com/Comp/3380/lw-12-ritchie/) By now (2006) I guess it's safe to assume that they won't. (DennisRitchie wasn't involved in the C99 process, and wasn't overly happy with the changes in the new standard.)


More recent printings of the second edition use paper which is much thicker and somewhat cheap-looking. More seriously, the cleanness of the type has worsened dramatically. It seems that the publishers (Prentice Hall) haven't reset the book in years, despite the now-embarrassing smudginess and the fact that there are several known errors in the text: see http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/cbook/2ediffs.html . Of course it's still a full-price title - presumably the heavier paper was an attempt to make it look like better value for money to less-informed buyers who are likely to weigh it visually against the many thicker books on the programming shelves.


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