Objective-C vs. C: Understanding the Evolution of Programming Languages

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Objective-C vs. C: Understanding the Evolution of Programming Languages

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May 3rd, 2024

The C programming language has a long history dating back to the 1970s. It was created by Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs and was designed for systems programming. 

Objective-C was created as an extension of C in the early 1980s by Brad Cox. Implementing a messaging system between objects adds object-oriented programming capabilities to C. 

This blog post aims to provide an overview and comparison of objective c vs. c. 

We’ll explore the evolution from C to Objective-C, looking at the pros and cons of each language. Understanding the differences can help a custom website development firm select the right language.

C Language Overview

The C programming language was created in the early 1970s by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson at Bell Labs. It is considered one of the most influential programming languages in history.

C is a general-purpose programming language originally designed for developing system software and applications. The UNIX operating system was almost entirely written in C. Due to its portability, efficiency, and minimalist design, C became widely used for various applications, from operating systems to graphics.

C provides constructs that map efficiently to typical machine instructions. It has a static type system and is weakly typed, which allows for manual memory management. This gives programmers more control over hardware aspects like memory usage and CPU utilization.

The language was designed to implement system software and applications that deal directly with the hardware, like operating systems, device drivers, compilers, interpreters, assemblers, etc. C provides constructs that provide low-level memory access, making it a good choice for system programming.

C became so popular in the 1980s that it replaced previously dominant languages like assembly, BASIC, and Pascal for system programming. It enabled the creation of large, complicated systems that had previously been very difficult to program.

C Language Pros

C is known for being an extremely fast and efficient programming language. This is because it is a low-level language that gives the programmer direct access to memory and hardware. The key advantages of C include:

  • Speed and efficiency

C code can run very fast and make highly optimized use of system resources. This makes it well-suited for system programming, embedded systems, operating systems, device drivers, etc. The overheads are low compared to higher-level languages.

  • Portability across platforms 

C code can be compiled to run on many different hardware platforms and operating systems. This wide compatibility makes C a popular choice for cross-platform applications.

  • Low-level memory access

C allows direct manipulation of pointers for memory access. This allows techniques like manual memory management, direct memory access, and low-level optimizations. It gives the programmer finer control over hardware resources.

C Language Cons

C is a procedural programming language and lacks support for object-oriented programming. This can make the code harder to organize and maintain as a complex project grows.

C also has a relatively limited set of standard libraries compared to more modern languages. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of C is that it provides low-level memory access but does not automatically manage memory allocation and deallocation. Programmers have to manually allocate and free memory in C code. This makes C prone to dangerous bugs like buffer overflows, dangling pointers, and memory leaks. 

Objective-C Overview

Objective-C was developed in the early 1980s to extend the C programming language. It added object-oriented capabilities and messaging to C, making working with objects and classes easier in a C-based environment.

The key features added by Objective-C include:

  • Dynamic object model – Allows for dynamic typing and binding of objects at runtime
  • Messaging – Objects can send messages to each other through defined methods
  • Categories – Allows methods to be added to existing classes without subclassing
  • Protocols – Defines interfaces that classes can adopt without inheritance

Objective-C uses a syntax based on C but adds Smalltalk-style messaging capabilities. This allows object-oriented constructs like classes, inheritance, and dynamic binding to be implemented on top of C.

Unlike C++, Objective-C does not support namespaces, templates, overloading, exceptions, or multiple inheritance. However, categories and protocols help provide some of the same benefits as multiple inheritance.

Objective-C was created primarily for Apple’s operating systems and platforms, starting with NeXT in the 1980s. It remains the main language used for OS X and iOS development today, along with the Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks. The focus has been on Apple products, although some ports are available for other systems.

Objective-C Pros

Objective C vs. c has several key advantages that make it appealing for certain use cases and The App Founders preferred language. 

  • Full object-oriented support 

Objective c vs. c is built on top of C, adding full object-oriented programming capabilities. This includes classes, inheritance, dynamic binding, and message passing. The object-oriented nature makes it easy to structure code and model real-world entities.

  • Dynamic runtime 

Objective-C uses a dynamic runtime system, which allows for more flexibility. Late binding allows developers to write code without knowing implementation details upfront. The dynamic runtime enables powerful features like reflection and categories.

  • Rich frameworks like Cocoa/Cocoa Touch 

Objective-C is the main language used for Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks. These frameworks provide robust pre-built classes and APIs for building macOS and iOS apps. 

The tight integration of Objective-C with these platforms makes it an ideal choice for Apple development. Frameworks like Foundation and UIKit help accelerate development using proven and polished code.

Objective-C Cons

Objective C vs. c has some notable drawbacks:

  • Slower than C 

Objective C vs. C uses dynamic runtime binding, which comes with performance overhead compared to C’s static binding. This makes Objective-C programs slower than their C counterparts.

  • More complex syntax 

Objective C vs. C’s syntax builds on C by adding Smalltalk-style messaging capabilities. This results in a lengthier and complex syntax with method calls like [object message]. C has a cleaner syntax without this messaging layer.

  • Mainly for Apple’s ecosystem 

While Objective C vs. C can be used outside of Apple platforms, it is mainly used for Mac Interface and iOS development. The language originated at Apple and is deeply integrated into their frameworks like Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. So Objective-C lacks the portability and ubiquity of C.


Objective C vs. C has evolved significantly over the decades to become a staple programming language. While they share a common history and C syntax, they have diverged into languages suited for different needs.

The key differences between Objective C and C are Object-Oriented Programming and platform support. Objective-C enables OOP through message passing and dynamic binding between objects. This makes it ideal for building complex, modular iOS and macOS apps. In contrast, C remains a procedural language focused on high performance and portability. It shines for system-level programming across platforms.

As mob app Development Tools, Objective C vs. C provides rich frameworks and native integration on Apple platforms. The syntax can be verbose but also expressive for modeling real-world entities. C delivers the speed, control, and flexibility needed for lower-level coding on embedded devices, operating systems, drivers, etc. It remains ubiquitous for projects requiring efficiency and direct hardware access.

Ultimately, both languages, Objective C vs. C, deliver immense value. Objective-C enables Apple’s ecosystems via Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. C powers much of the underlying infrastructure. Their continued interoperation enables developers to utilize the strengths of each language.

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