Morgan Stanley | Columbia University | Texas A&M University

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International standard for the C++ programming language published


14 October 1998


Santa Cruz, CA -

The new ISO/IEC C++ Standard has been published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The date of publication was September 1, 1998. Copies of the standard are available for purchase from the national standards bodies that participate in ISO.

Machine-readable copies of the C++ Standard are available for downloading at the ANSI Electronic Store. The cost is $18.00 USD payable on-line via credit card. The downloaded document is in PDF form, 2794KB total size.

The printed version is available for purchase from the same web site ( Choose "Catalogs/Standards Information", then "ANSI-ISO-IEC Online Catalog", then search for "14882". The price per copy is $175.00 USD.

The official designation of the C++ standard is ISO/IEC 14882-1998; its title is "Information Technology - Programming Languages - C++".

On July 22nd, the Central Secretariat of ISO confirmed the final approval and impending publication of the global standard for the C++ programming language. C++ is one of the most widely used software tools in the world with more than 1.5 million users. The national standards bodies of 20 different countries voted unanimously in favor of the completed content for an international standard for the C++ programming language. The ballot was conducted by the Joint Technical Committee #1 (JTC1) of ISO and IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission). "Final ratification by the JTC1 was the last procedural hurdle for the C++ standard," says Thomas Plum, president of Plum Hall Inc. and convener of the ISO C++ Working Group.

Today, the C++ software programming tool is used on nearly all computers from the most powerful supercomputers and commercial mainframes to ubiquitous personal computers and unseen microprocessors.

The C++ standard covers both the C++ language itself and its standard library. The library represents a significant improvement over what has been generally available. It will ease the task of learning C++ and make it far simpler to write programs that run on a variety of platforms.

During the 1990s, C++ became the dominant programming language for demanding applications in such diverse fields as finance, embedded systems, telecommunications, and computer-aided design.

Software tools providers are already shipping C++ implementations and tools that approximate the standard. The C++ library provides standard input/output, containers (such as vectors, lists, maps and strings), non-numerical algorithms (such as sort, search, and merge), and support for numeric computation. As a result of the international effort, the C++ standard provides extensive support for the use of national character sets (e.g., European national characters and Japanese characters).

Since the standardization process began in 1989, representatives from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States have met regularly, along with representatives from about a hundred companies and many interested individuals, to write a mutually agreed upon standard. Companies that have contributed to the standard include industry giants such as AT&T, Ericsson, Digital, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Mentor Graphics, Microsoft, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems, and Siemens.

C++ was initially designed and implemented by Dr. Bjarne Stroustrup at AT&T Labs (then AT&T Bell Labs). The first commercial version was released in 1985. The language gained widespread use in industry and academia during the 1980s, and around 1990 the major computer and software tools suppliers started to provide C++ to their users as a major implementation tool. After explosive growth of the C++ user population in the 1980s and early 1990s where C++ usage doubled nearly every seven months, the use of C++ has settled into a pattern of steady growth (on the order of 15% to 30% a year). The new standard is expected to sustain and stimulate this growth.

Ongoing news about the progress of the standard will be posted to the "C++ Standard" topic at

The "Frequently Asked Questions" for the C++ Standard is maintained at

C++ standard contacts in the United States: €Thomas Plum (ISO C++ convener), Plum Hall,,

€Stephen Clamage (ANSI C++ chairman), Sun Microsystems,

€Andrew Koenig (C++ project editor), AT&T Labs,,

€Bjarne Stroustrup (C++'s designer), AT&T Labs,,

International C++ standards contacts (recent Heads of Delegation):

€ Fergus Henderson (Australia), Melbourne Univ.,

€ Herb Sutter (Canada),

€ Keld Simonsen (Denmark), DKUUG,

€ Vincent Lextrait (France), Amadeus,

€ Erwin Unruh (Germany), Siemens-Nixdorf,

€ Martin O'Riordan (Ireland),

€ Tsutomu Kamimura (Japan), IBM Tokyo Research Lab,

€ Jan Christiaan van Winkel (Netherlands), AT Computing,

€ Dag Br€ck (Sweden), Dynasim AB,

€ Francis Glassborow (UK),

€ Clark Nelson (USA), Intel Corp.,

The secretariat for SC22/WG21 is provided by the convener's company, Plum Hall Inc, of Kamuela HI. Plum Hall is a small privately-held company providing validation tests, textbooks, and testing tools for professional software developers. Contact Peter Kurpis at Plum Hall Inc, 3 Waihona Box 44610, Kamuela HI 96743, USA +1-808-882-1225, FAX +1-808-882-1556,,

This is not part of the ISO press release:

Back to Bjarne's homepage.

Stroustrup: The C++ Programming Language (3rd Edition) describes the standard.

Stroustrup: The Design and Evolution of C++ describes many of the decisions that led to the standard.

Morgan Stanley | Columbia University | Texas A&M University

home | C++ | FAQ | technical FAQ | C++11 FAQ | publications | WG21 papers | TC++PL | Tour++ | Programming | D&E | bio | interviews | videos | applications | glossary | compilers