Aztec C

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Aztec C
Developer(s)Manx Software Systems

Aztec C is a C compiler for MS-DOS, Apple II DOS 3.3 and ProDOS, Commodore 64, early Macintosh, CP/M-80, Amiga, and Atari ST.


Manx Software Systems of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, produced C compilers beginning in the 1980s targeted at professional developers for a variety of platforms up to and including PCs and Macs.

Manx Software Systems was started by Harry Suckow, with partners Thomas Fenwick, and James Goodnow II, the two principal developers. They were all working together at another company at the time. Suckow had started several companies of his own anticipating the impending growth of the PC market, with each company specializing in different kinds of software. A demand came for compilers first and he disengaged himself from the other companies to pursue Manx and Aztec C.

Suckow took care of the business side, Fenwick specialized in front-end compiler development, and Goodnow specialized in back-end compiler development. Another developer, Chris Macey, worked with them for a while on 80XX development and in other areas.

The name "Manx" was selected from a list of cats for no particular reason except that the name Suckow wanted to use was taken.

One of the main reasons for Aztec C's early success was the floating point support for the Z80 compiler which was extended to the Apple II shortly after. Suckow insisted on adding floating point.

During the move to ANSI C in 1989, Robert Sherry who was with Manx at the time and interested in the minutiae of standards represented them on the ANSI committee but left shortly after. He also fixed numerous bugs in the Aztec C after Chris Macey and Thomas Fenwick left the company.

By this time Microsoft had targeted competitors for their C compiler and Aztec C was being pushed-out of the general IBM-PC compiler market, followed by competition with Apple's MPW C on the Macintosh side and Lattice C on the Amiga after SAS bought them.

In 1989 Thomas Fenwick left to work for Microsoft, and James Goodnow worked on Aztec C occasionally but was pursuing other projects outside the company and eventually left the company altogether. Suckow employed about 20 people at that time. Chris Macey returned as a consultant but eventually left to become chief scientist for another company. Mike Spille joined Manx as a developer along with the late Jeff Davis (embedded systems).

Throughout the 1990s they continued to make their Aztec C. As their market share dropped, they tried to make the move to specializing in embedded systems development,[1] but it was too late. They disappeared a few years back following the loss of market presence of some of their target platforms (various 6502 machines, Atari and Amiga 68xxx, etc.).[2]

In the end, Jeff Davis and Mike Spille helped Harry Suckow keep the company going before Suckow finally closed it. Suckow is still the Copyright holder for Aztec C.

Many professional developers used the Manx Software Systems' Aztec C compiler until it became operationally extinct.[3][4]


Aztec C remains copyrighted and has not been placed into the public domain. Harry Suckow, who started Manx Software Systems with partners Thomas Fenwick and James Goodnow II, is the copyright holder.

At least two free Internet distributions exist for native Aztec C Compilers for the Apple II; one for Apple II DOS 3.3 and the other for Apple II ProDOS 8.[5] A third free Internet distribution exists for Aztec C for the Commodore Amiga.[5] A fourth free Internet distribution exists for their MS-DOS 8086 native compiler,[5] and a fifth exists for a limited version of their MS-DOS cross-compiler for Apple II ProDOS 8.


  1. ^ "PC chipsets build a firm foundation for embedded applications". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved November 22, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Hardware and software vendor contact information, L-P". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  4. ^ Kent, Allen; Williams, James G. (25 November 1992). Encyclopedia of Microcomputers: Volume 11 - Management Studies to Multiprocessing and Multitasking. CRC Press. ISBN 9780824727093. Retrieved 24 June 2016 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c "The Official Aztec C Online Museum". Retrieved 24 June 2016.