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I’ve searched around for this already but ironically the results have been overshadowed by “Why C was named C” instead.

If C was named “C” because it came after B, why was B named "B", since the only languages preceding B were FORTRAN and Plankalkül?

Is it possible naming B - “B” was a play on “Assembly” abbreviated - “A” since B is higher level than Assembly and follows this same construct?

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  • $\begingroup$ Many languages preceded B, which came out in the late 1960s. For example, ALGOL, Lisp, Simula, PL/1, CPL -- even BASIC and COBOL! $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jan 23 at 20:49
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B was designed by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, as a cut-down version of BCPL, the Basic Combined Programming Language. Ritchie [1] says,

[B's] name most probably represents a contraction of BCPL, though an alternate theory holds that it derives from Bon, an unrelated language created by Thompson during the Multics days. Bon in turn was named either after his wife Bonnie, or (according to an encyclopedia quotation in its manual), after a religion whose rituals involve the murmuring of magic formulas.


[1] Dennis Ritchie, The development of the C language. ACM SIGPLAN Notices. 28 (3): 201–208, 1993.

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