ABC was created by by Leo Geurts, Lambert Meertens and Steven Pemberton at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands. It was developed iteratively with ABC being the fourth iteration. The first two iterations were developed by Geurts and Meertens at the CWI between 1975-76 and 1977-79 respectively. The third iteration was developed between 1979-81 with the help of Robert Dewar from the New York University and had "B" as a working title.

After using B for 5 years, Geurts, Meertens and Pemberton came up with a new iteration based on the pros and cons of B and other programming languages of the time. They named this language ABC and as of 1986, it was ready for a formal release and was undergoing final revisions. Probably ABC was released to the public in 1987.


ABC was intended for teaching and prototyping purposes rather than systems programming. It was created to replace some older languages such as BASIC, Pascal and AWK. As it turns out ABC is easier to learn than BASIC but more powerful than Pascal. It's initial aims were to be:

  • Simple

  • Interactive

  • Structured