Go was conceived in September 2007 by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson, all at Google, and was announced in November 2009. The goals of the language and its accompanying tools were to be expressive, efficient in both compilation and execution, and effective in writing reliable and robust programs.
Go bears a surface similarity to C and, like C, is a tool for professional programmers, achieving maximum effect with minimum means. But it is much more than an updated version of C. It borrows and adapts good ideas from many other languages, while avoiding features that have led to complexity and unreliable code. Its facilities for concurrency are new and efficient, and its approach to data abstraction and object-oriented programming is unusually flexible. It has automatic memory management or garbage collection.
Go is especially well suited for building infrastructure like networked servers, and tools and systems for programmers, but it is truly a general-purpose language and finds use in domains as diverse as graphics, mobile applications, and machine learning. It has become popular as a replacement for untyped scripting languages because it balances expressiveness with safety: Go programs typically run faster than programs written in dynamic languages and suffer far fewer crashes due to unexpected type errors.
Go is an open-source project, so source code for its compiler, libraries, and tools is freely available to anyone. Contributions to the project come from an active worldwide community. Go runs on Unix-like systems—Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS X—and on Plan 9 and Microsoft Windows. Programs written in one of these environments generally work without modification on the others.