What is the full form of BCPL ?


BCPL stands for "Basic Combined Programming Language." BCPL was designed as a predecessor to the C programming language and influenced its development.

BCPL was designed to be a simple and efficient language suitable for systems programming, especially on limited hardware. It was used to develop the first versions of the Unix operating system and the early versions of the C compiler.

Definition and Overview of BCPL

Martin Richards of the University of Cambridge created the programming language known as "BCPL" (Basic Combined Programming Language) in 1966. It gained popularity fast, partly as a result of its high portability. The BCPL programming language replaced CPL and was the first to produce the classic "Hello World!" test message and build a MUD.

BCPL is a structured, imperative, and procedural programming language (basic combined programming language). The way BCPL was designed made it possible to develop compact and simple compilers, some of which apparently executed in as little as 16 kilobytes. Also, the original compiler, which was developed using BCPL, was quite portable. As a result, BCPL was used to bootstrap a number of systems. The portability of the compiler was significantly influenced by its structure.

History and Development

BCPL was first employed in 1967 by Martin Richards of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge Programming Language, which was developed in the early 1960s and later renamed Combined Programming Language, had problems, which led to the creation of BCPL (CPL). Richards created BCPL by "removing those full language features that pose a challenge for compilation." Richards produced the first compiler implementation for the IBM 7094 running the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) when he visited Project MAC at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the spring of 1967. The first description of the language was published in a paper presented at the Spring Joint Computer Conference in 1969.

At least 25 different architectures had BCPL implementations in 1979, but BCPL steadily lost favor as C became more common on non-Unix computers.

Features and Characteristics of BCPL: Syntax and Semantics

The basic features of BCPL are as follows −

  • In addition to avoiding overlapping, comments only use the necessary closure sign as their unique identification. Comments can extend from the characters //, ||, or to the end of the line, or from the characters /*, |*, or * to the corresponding closure sign.

  • If there isn't a “ ; “ at the end of a line even though one is syntactically necessary, one will be added. In light of this, a line cannot start with a dyadic operator.

  • In all cases, the terms OR and ELSE, as well as THEN and DO, are interchangeable. If another keyword or a block comes after THEN/DO, it might be skipped.

  • When it is followed by the keyword GET, the file indicated by the string constant is textually included at this location. Both the keyword and the string need their own source line, possibly followed by a comment.

Future Trends and Developments

Although there might not be any major trends or developments explicitly related to BCPL in the future, there are a few areas where these concepts might still be useful.

The creation of low-level systems programming languages is one area in which the principles behind BCPL may continue to play a significant role.

The creation of programming languages for educational purposes is another area where the BCPL tenets may continue to be significant. Programming languages that may be used to teach programming ideas in an easy-to-understand manner and that are accessible to novices are still needed today.

Finally, even though BCPL may not experience significant updates or developments in the future, there may still be interest in researching the language and its past. Understanding BCPL's design ideas and accomplishments will help us better comprehend the history of computing and the evolution of programming languages. BCPL had a significant impact on the development of computer science and programming.


A conventional, dynamic, and organized programming language is known as BCPL (basic combined programming language). BCPL, which was first created to create compilers for other languages, is no longer widely used. A simplified and syntactically altered version of BCPL known as B, which served as the foundation for the C programming language, ensures that its influence is still felt today. Several elements of many contemporary programming languages, such as the use of curly braces to separate code blocks, were first presented by BCPL.


Q1. List three reasons why C is a popular programming language.

Ans. Name three factors that make the programming language C so well-liked.

  • C is in close proximity to the hardware of the computer, disclosing the underlying architecture and offering sufficient low-level access to be appropriate for embedded devices.

  • High-level languages like C make it possible to build complicated systems quickly.

  • The usage of libraries in C allows it to be adapted to a wide range of application domains.

Q2. What is the CPL?

Ans. The early 1960s saw the development of the multi-paradigm programming language known as CPL (Combined Programming Language). By means of BCPL and B, it is an early descendant of the C language.

Q3. What makes program execution slower in interpreters than with compilers?

Ans. A fairly rapid interpreter quickly analyzes the source code. However, it takes significantly longer to finish the process as a whole. The source code analysis process of a compiler is time-consuming. In spite of this, the process is finished in a lot less time overall.

Updated on: 20-Apr-2023


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