Hi there trent!
Who better to ask than the man himself? In an article entitled "The
Development of the C language" (also cheekily called "Christory") he
explains the origins of the language.
It turns out that C was not a spontaneous creation, but a gradual
migration from a language called B, which preceeded it (and itself
came from a language called BCPL). B was used on the PDP-7, and then
ported to the new PDP-11. At this point, with more memory available to
him, and more compiler writing experience, Dennis Ritchie created an
extension to B which he called "NB" (for "new B"). As he added more
features to this language (including a type system!) he eventually
felt it justified a new name - and he called it C. He says that he is
leaving the question open whether he named it as an alphabetic
progression, or whether he named it for the second letter of "BCPL".
Here's the article:
It actually suggests that the first C compiler was written in 1971,
not 1970. He doesn't say at what point C became self-hosting (ie: when
he wrote a C compiler in C, rather than B) but you can see one of his
earliest C compilers, written in C in 1972, here:
I hope this answers your question! If anything's unclear, please don't
hesitate to request clarification before rating this answer!
All the best,
"history of C"
"first C compiler"
ritchie origins C