If you’re not a computer programmer, the name Bjarne Stroustrup might not mean that much to you. The creator of the coding language C++ isn’t exactly a household name. But the coding languages he wrote are the technological backbone behind many of the most sophisticated computer systems that run the world around us.
In his Big Think interview, Stroustrup talks about why he created C++, improving on the language C that was developed by Bell Labs, which was then in general use. “My idea was very simple: to take the ideas from SIMULA for general abstraction for the benefit of sort of humans representing things… so humans could get it with low level stuff, which at that time was the best language for that was C. … And take those two ideas and bring them together so that you could do high-level abstraction, but efficiently enough and close enough to the hardware for really demanding computing tasks. And that is where I came in. And so C++ has classes like SIMULA but they run as fast as C code, so the combination becomes very useful.”
Today C is obsolete, says Stroustrup, and the increased efficiency of C++ actually is helping to combat global warming. Fewer server farms (with their related energy expenditure) are needed, he says, when code works better.
Stroustrup also predicted that in the near future there will be a unified language that programs run on. “I’m not talking about programming language,” he says. “I’m talking more about a unified design style, a unified set of guidelines for how to combine the techniques. I certainly hope that there will not be just one programming language.”
Finally, Stroustrup tells us a little about his work setup and habits, and why he does his work on a small laptop that runs Windows.