After about 30 years of C, there are only three things I would have liked to see:

1.  Computed goto

2.  goto a line in a different function (more than setjmp/longjmp)

3.  Easy / standard access to registers

Computed goto's are good for interpreters.

Goto a line in a different function makes it easier to implement languages with tail recursion without a trampoline.  (Or perhaps require C to support tail recursion.)

Some sort of standard way to access registers makes it easier to implement garbage collectors without resorting to assembler.

Blake McBride

On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 7:42 PM, Larry McVoy <> wrote:
I'm with Marc.  I think the C syntax is really pleasant, and while I enjoyed
writing PDP-11 assembler (by far my favorite out the ones I've done which
include VAX, m68k, 32032, z80, sparc, some x86 but not much), I don't want
go back to writing assembler unless I have to.  C is a pleasant language
that easily compiles to assembler.

I happen to like it so much I made a scripting language that looks very
C like, with some perl pleasantness tossed in (without all the dollar
signs).  Check it out at

100% open source, actively developed, yada, yada.

On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 06:37:21PM -0600, Marc Rochkind wrote:
> Yeah, OK, another one of those clever glib UNIXy aphorisms.
> But, as anyone who's actually programmed seriously in assembly language
> knows, C is not assembler. It is a system programming language low enough
> to be used for things that were once done in assembler, the most important
> of which is an OS.
> So, for most of us, we no longer had to write in assembler. But that
> doesn't mean C is assembler.
> So, are we just having fun over a few beers, or talking seriously? I like
> both!
> --Marc Rochkind
> On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 12:21 PM, Dave Horsfall <> wrote:
> > Seen on another list...  And I got quoted by Steve Bellovin :-)
> >
> > --
> > Dave Horsfall DTM (VK2KFU)  "Those who don't understand security will
> > suffer."
> >
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > From: Kent Borg
> > To:
> > Subject: Re: [Cryptography]
> >     "NSA-linked Cisco exploit poses bigger threat than previously thought"
> >
> > On 08/25/2016 06:06 PM, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:
> >
> > > I first heard more or less that line from Doug McIlroy himself; he
> > > called C the best assembler language he'd ever used.
> >
> > Ancient fun-fact: Years ago there was an article in Byte magazine
> > describing how a useful subset of C could be directly assembled into 68000
> > code. Not compiled, assembled.
> >
> > C is a stunning assembly language. When those wild-eyed nerds at AT&T
> > decided to write Unix not in assembly but in C (where was management!?),
> > it was radical. But C was up to (down to?) the task, it was pioneering
> > then and is still doing useful things decades later: From the fastest
> > supercomputers to some pretty slim microcontrollers (plus a hell of a lot
> > of Android devices) multitudes of computers run a Linux kernel compiled
> > from the *same* C source code, with almost no assembly. Big-endian,
> > little-endian: no matter. Different word lengths: no matter.
> >
> > That is one impressive cross-platform assembly language!
> >
> > Unfortunately, C is also a dangerous language that mortal programmers
> > cannot reliably wield.
> >
> > -kb, the Kent who knows he is pressing his luck on a moderated
> > cryptography mailing list, but C deserves a lot of respect, as it also
> > deserves to be efficiently sent into a dignified retirement.
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > The cryptography mailing list
> >
> >
> >
> >

Larry McVoy                  lm at