R is designed as a true computer language with control-flow constructions for iteration and alternation, and it allows users to add additional functionality by defining new functions. For computationally intensive tasks, C and Fortran code can be linked and called at run time.
R is easily extensible using a package library system and a wide-ranging and extensive set of contributed packages are available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network (http://cran.r-project.org and mirrors), from where the software itself can also be fetched, presently in source form but in due course also as binaries for the most common platforms: Linux, the main commercial Unix versions, and Win32.
R was initially written by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman, who are Senior Lecturers at the Department of Statistics of the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. In addition, a large group of individuals has contributed to R by sending code and bug reports.
Since mid-1997 development has been in the hands of an international core group (the "R Core Team") who can modify the R source code CVS archive. The group currently consists of Doug Bates (USA), Peter Dalgaard (Denmark), Robert Gentleman (NZ), Kurt Hornik (Austria), Ross Ihaka (NZ), Friedrich Leisch (Austria), Thomas Lumley (USA), Martin Maechler (Switzerland), Guido Masarotto (Italy), Paul Murrell (NZ), Brian Ripley (UK), Duncan Temple Lang (USA), and Luke Tierney (USA).
The release of a current major version indicates that we believe that R has reached a level of stability and maturity that makes it suitable for production use. Also, the release of 1.0.0 marks that the base language and the API for extension writers will remain stable for the foreseeable future. In addition we have taken the opportunity to tie up as many loose ends as we could.