This document is intended to introduce pointers to beginning programmers in the C programming language. Over several years of reading and contributing to various conferences on C including those on the FidoNet and UseNet, I have noted a large number of newcomers to C appear to have a difficult time in grasping the fundamentals of pointers. I therefore undertook the task of trying to explain them in plain language with lots of examples.

The first version of this document was placed in the public domain, as is this one. It was picked up by Bob Stout who included it as a file called PTR-HELP.TXT in his widely distributed collection of SNIPPETS. Since that original 1995 release, I have added a significant amount of material and made some minor corrections in the original work.

In the HTML version 1.1 I made a number of minor changes to the wording as a result of comments emailed to me from around the world.  In version 1.2 I updated the first two chapters to acknowledge the shift from 16 bit compilers to 32 bit compilers on PCs.

In version 1.3, there is a Markdown version of the turorial available.


There are so many people who have unknowingly contributed to this work because of the questions they have posed in the FidoNet C Echo, or the UseNet Newsgroup comp.lang.c, or several other conferences in other networks, that it would be impossible to list them all. Special thanks go to Bob Stout who was kind enough to include the first version of this material in his SNIPPETS file.

About the Author:

Ted Jensen is a retired Electronics Engineer who worked as a hardware designer or manager of hardware designers in the field of magnetic recording. Programming has been a hobby of his off and on since 1968 when he learned how to keypunch cards for submission to be run on a mainframe. (The mainframe had 64K of magnetic core memory!).

About the Maintainer

Jay Flaherty is a Principal Software Engineer who has worked for various entities programming in everything from Perl to Python to Java and now is diving deep into the world of C programming.

Use of this Material:

Other versions of this document:

The original 1.2 version of this document is available at Github Releases


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