C++ (/ˌsiːˌplʌsˈplʌs/) is a general-purpose programming language created by Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension of the C programming language, or “C with Classes”. The language has expanded significantly over time, and modern C++ now has object-oriented, generic, and functional features in addition to facilities for low-level memory manipulation. It is almost always implemented as a compiled language, and many vendors provide C++ compilers, including the Free Software Foundation, LLVM, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, and IBM, so it is available on many platforms.
C++ was designed with an orientation toward systems programming and embedded, resource-constrained software and large systems, with performance, efficiency, and flexibility of use as its design highlights. C++ has also been found useful in many other contexts, with key strengths being software infrastructure and resource-constrained applications, including desktop applications, video games, servers (e.g. e-commerce, web search, or databases), and performance-critical applications (e.g. telephone switches or space probes).
C++ is standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), with the latest standard version ratified and published by ISO in December 2020 as ISO/IEC 14882:2020 (informally known as C++20). The C++ programming language was initially standardized in 1998 as ISO/IEC 14882:1998, which was then amended by the C++03, C++11, C++14, and C++17 standards. The current C++20 standard supersedes these with new features and an enlarged standard library. Before the initial standardization in 1998, C++ was developed by Stroustrup at Bell Labs since 1979 as an extension of the C language; he wanted an efficient and flexible language similar to C that also provided high-level features for program organization. Since 2012, C++ has been on a three-year release schedule with C++23 as the next planned standard.