Hello world!

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While small test programs have existed since the development of programmable computers, the tradition of using the phrase «Hello, World!» as a test message was influenced by an example program in the 1978 book The C Programming Language,[2] with likely earlier use in BCPL (as below). The example program in that book prints «hello, world«, and was inherited from a 1974 Bell Laboratories internal memorandum by Brian KernighanProgramming in C: A Tutorial:[3]main( ) { printf(«hello, world»); }

In the above example, the main( ) function defines where the program should start executing. The function body consists of a single statement, a call to the printf function, which stands for «print formatted». This function will cause the program to output whatever is passed to it as the parameter, in this case the string hello, world.

The C language version was preceded by Kernighan’s own 1972 A Tutorial Introduction to the Language B,[4] where the first known version of the program is found in an example used to illustrate external variables:main( ) { extern a, b, c; putchar(a); putchar(b); putchar(c); putchar(‘!*n’); } a ‘hell’; b ‘o, w’; c ‘orld’;

The program prints hello, world! on the terminal, including a newline character. The phrase is divided into multiple variables because in B a character constant is limited to four ASCII characters. The previous example in the tutorial printed hi! on the terminal, and the phrase hello, world! was introduced as a slightly longer greeting that required several character constants for its expression.

The Jargon File reports that «hello, world» instead originated with BCPL (1967).[5] Use of the phrase outside computing began over a decade before that; it was the catchphrase of New York radio disc jockey William B. Williams beginning in the 1950s.[6]