History and Evolution of C++ - Tutorial

Welcome to this tutorial on the history and evolution of the C++ programming language. C++ is a powerful, general-purpose programming language that builds upon the foundation of the C programming language. In this tutorial, we will explore the origins of C++, its major milestones, and how it has evolved over time.

Introduction to C++

C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup at Bell Laboratories in the early 1980s. It was created as an extension of the C programming language, aiming to add support for object-oriented programming (OOP) concepts while maintaining the efficiency and low-level control of C. C++ introduced features such as classes, objects, inheritance, and polymorphism, making it suitable for building large-scale software systems.

The Evolution of C++

C++ has undergone several significant milestones and releases throughout its history. Let's explore some of the key milestones:

C++98 (ISO/IEC 14882:1998)

The first standardized version of C++ was released in 1998, commonly referred to as C++98 or C++03. It brought many important features to the language, including exception handling, templates, namespaces, and the Standard Template Library (STL). C++98 established the foundation for modern C++ programming and became widely adopted in the industry.

C++11 (ISO/IEC 14882:2011)

C++11, released in 2011, was a major update to the language. It introduced numerous new features and improvements, including lambda expressions, range-based for loops, smart pointers, type inference (auto keyword), and support for multithreading with the thread library. C++11 significantly enhanced the expressiveness, safety, and productivity of C++ code.

C++14 (ISO/IEC 14882:2014)

C++14, released in 2014, focused on minor enhancements and bug fixes. It added features like binary literals, variable templates, generic lambdas, and improvements to the standard library. C++14 aimed to provide incremental improvements over C++11 without introducing major language changes.

C++17 (ISO/IEC 14882:2017)

C++17, released in 2017, introduced several significant language and library features. Some of the notable additions include structured bindings, inline variables, constexpr if, optional types, and the parallel algorithms library. C++17 aimed to simplify and streamline common programming tasks while improving performance and safety.

C++20 (ISO/IEC 14882:2020)

C++20, released in 2020, is the latest major update to the language. It brings numerous new features and improvements, such as concepts, modules, coroutines, ranges, and the three-way comparison operator. C++20 focuses on further enhancing the expressiveness, readability, and performance of C++ code.

Common Mistakes

  • Confusing C++ with C or assuming that C++ is just a superset of C.
  • Not taking advantage of modern C++ features and relying solely on C-style coding.
  • Ignoring best practices and guidelines for writing clean and idiomatic C++ code.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is C++ an extension of C?

    Yes, C++ is an extension of the C programming language. It retains most of the syntax and semantics of C while introducing additional features for object-oriented programming.

  2. What are the main features of C++?

    C++ introduces features such as classes, objects, inheritance, polymorphism, templates, exception handling, namespaces, and the Standard Template Library (STL).

  3. Is C++ backward compatible with C?

    Yes, C++ is designed to be backward compatible with C. C++ code can make use of existing C libraries and code, and C code can be compiled and executed as part of a C++ program.

  4. What is the latest version of C++?

    The latest version of C++ is C++20, which was released in 2020. It brings several new features and enhancements to the language.

  5. How can I learn modern C++ programming?

    To learn modern C++ programming, you can start by reading books and online resources that cover C++11 and later versions. Practice writing code, explore sample projects, and participate in C++ communities to gain hands-on experience.


In this tutorial, we explored the history and evolution of the C++ programming language. We discussed how C++ was created as an extension of the C language to support object-oriented programming and examined its major milestones, including the releases of C++98, C++11, C++14, C++17, and C++20. We also highlighted common mistakes and provided answers to some frequently asked questions. C++ continues to evolve, bringing new features and improvements to meet the demands of modern software development.