Version Standard Publication Date
K&R n/a 1978-02-22
C89 ANSI X3.159-1989 1989-12-14
C90 ISO/IEC 9899:1990 1990-12-20
C95 ISO/IEC 9899/AMD1:1995 1995-03-30
C99 ISO/IEC 9899:1999 1999-12-16
C11 ISO/IEC 9899:2011 2011-12-15
To create a simple C program which prints “Hello, World” on the screen, use a text editor to create a new file (e.g. hello.c — the file extension must be .c) containing the following source code://hello.c #include
Let’s look at this simple program line by line
This line tells the compiler to include the contents of the standard library header file stdio.h in the program. Headers are usually files containing function declarations, macros and data types, and you must include the header file before you use them. This line includes stdio.h so it can call the function puts().
See more about headers.
This line starts the definition of a function. It states the name of the function (main), the type and number of arguments it expects (void, meaning none), and the type of value that this function returns (int). Program execution starts in the main() function.
The curly braces are used in pairs to indicate where a block of code begins and ends. They can be used in a lot of ways, but in this case they indicate where the function begins and ends.
This line calls the puts() function to output text to standard output (the screen, by default), followed by a newline.
The string to be output is included within the parentheses.
“Hello, World” is the string that will be written to the screen. In C, every string literal value must be inside the double quotes “…”.
See more about strings.
In C programs, every statement needs to be terminated by a semi-colon (i.e. ;).
When we defined main(), we declared it as a function returning an int, meaning it needs to return an integer. In this example, we are returning the integer value 0, which is used to indicate that the program exited successfully. After the return 0; statement, the execution process will terminate.
Editing the program
Simple text editors include vim or gedit on Linux, or Notepad on Windows. Cross-platform editors also include Visual Studio Code or Sublime Text.
The editor must create plain text files, not RTF or other any other format.
Compiling and running the program
To run the program, this source file (hello.c) first needs to be compiled into an executable file (e.g. hello on Unix/Linux system or hello.exe on Windows). This is done using a compiler for the C language.
See more about compiling
Compile using GCC
GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) is a widely used C compiler. To use it, open a terminal, use the command line to navigate to the source file’s location and then run:
gcc hello.c -o hello
If no errors are found in the the source code (hello.c), the compiler will create a binary file, the name of which is given by the argument to the -o command line option (hello). This is the final executable file.
We can also use the warning options -Wall -Wextra -Werror, that help to identify problems that can cause the program to fail or produce unexpected results. They are not necessary for this simple program but this is way of adding them:
gcc -Wall -Wextra -Werror -o hello hello.c
Using the clang compiler
To compile the program using clang you can use:
clang -Wall -Wextra -Werror -o hello hello.c
By design, the clang command line options are similar to those of GCC.
Using the Microsoft C compiler from the command line
If using the Microsoft cl.exe compiler on a Windows system which supports Visual Studio and if all environment variables are set, this C example may be compiled using the following command which will produce an executable hello.exe within the directory the command is executed in (There are warning options such as /W3 for cl, roughly analogous to -Wall etc for GCC or clang).
Executing the program
Once compiled, the binary file may then be executed by typing ./hello in the terminal. Upon execution, the compiled program will print Hello, World, followed by a newline, to the command prompt.
Original “Hello, World!” in K&R C
he following is the original “Hello, World!” program from the book The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie (Ritchie was the original developer of the C programming language at Bell Labs), referred to as “K&R”:Version = K&R #include
A return from the initial call to the main function is equivalent to calling the exit function with the value returned by the main function as its argument. If the main function executes a return that specifies no value, the termination status returned to the host environment is undefined.
The return statement
If a return statement without an expression is executed, and the value of the function call is used by the caller. the behavior is undefined. Reaching the } that terminates a function is equivalent to executing a return statement without an expression.
If the return type of the main function is a type compatible with int, a return from the initial call to the main function is equivalent to calling the exit function with the value returned by the main function as its argument; reaching the } that terminates the main function returns a value of 0. If the return type is not compatible with int, the termination status returned to the host environment is unspecified.