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C++ (pronounced “cee plus plus”) is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features.[2] It was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell Labs as an enhancement to the C language. Originally named C with Classes, the language was later renamed C++ in 1983.[3]

C++ is one of the most popular programming languages[4][5] with application domains including systems software (such as Microsoft Windows), application software, device drivers, embedded software, high-performance server and client applications, and entertainment software such as video games.[6] Several groups provide both free and proprietary C++ compiler software, including the GNU Project, Microsoft, Intel and Embarcadero Technologies. C++ has greatly influenced many other popular programming languages, most notably C# and Java.

C++ is also used for hardware design, where the design is initially described in C++, then analyzed, architecturally constrained, and scheduled to create a register-transfer level hardware description language via high-level synthesis.[7]

The language began as enhancements to C, first adding classes, then virtual functions, operator overloading, multiple inheritance, templates, and exception handling among other features. After years of development, the C++ programming language standard was ratified in 1998 as ISO/IEC 14882:1998. The standard was amended by the 2003 technical corrigendum, ISO/IEC 14882:2003. The current standard extending C++ with new features was ratified and published by ISO in September 2011 as ISO/IEC 14882:2011 (informally known as C++11).[8]