Learn Objective-C: A Brief History

The Objective-C programming language has had a humble history. Created by Brad Cox in the early 1980s as an extension of the venerated C, pioneered a decade earlier by Dennis Ritchie, the language was based on another called SmallTalk-80.

NeXT Software licensed the language in the 1988, and developed a code library called NeXTSTEP.

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When Apple Computer acquired NeXT in 1996, the NeXTSTEP code library was built into the core of Apple’s operating system, Mac OS X. NeXTSTEP provided Apple with a modern OS foundation, which Apple could not produce on its own.

The iPhone’s operating system, currently dubbed iOS, is based off of a reduced version of OS X. Therefore, iOS inherits most of the NeXTSTEP code library, along with extensive modernization and optimizations. Because NeXTSTEP was built from Objective-C, iOS mirrors the language choice. This made it easy for OS X developers to begin creating apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Apple added a number of features to the Objective-C language, extending its functionality to parallel that of other languages that were beginning to arise. This major update was labeled Objective-C 2.0, and remains the language of choice for both OS X and iOS. This iteration will be covered in this tutorial.

This post is part of the Learn Objective-C in 24 Days course.

Author: Feifan Zhou