Kochan assumes no prior knowledge, and the book starts with the absolute basics, explaining what a high-level language is, describing the process of coding and compilation and program execution. Wisely a platform-agnostic approach is adopted and no particular operating system or development environment is assumed. The book is usable for would-be C programmers working at a command-prompt in Windows, Linux or any other operating system, though there is a slight emphasis on the use of Unix-style utilities. A first program - which simply prints a message to the console - is used to illustrate the how the code, compile, link and run process works.
With these basics out of the way the fun can begin. Variables and data types are introduced and then used with simple arithmetic expressions. The examples are clear and the code explained in simple, concise language. There are no sudden leaps of understanding required, Kochan takes pains to make sure that material follows a logical sequence and that his readers are able to follow as the material becomes steadily more advanced. Program flow and looping each get chapters, ensuring that the key elements of programming are clearly understood.
Arrays also get a chapter, which begins with a basic single-dimensional array of integers and moves on to character arrays (though not strings at this stage), multi-dimensional and variable-length arrays. Functions are introduced in the following chapter, which not only covers functions and arguments, but also looks at top-down programming and the principles of structured design. Additionally much of the previous material is revisited, particularly with the coverage of functions and arrays. Recursion is also introduced, revisiting earlier code in order to show how recursion can often simplify or refine loops."