We attempt a comprehensive discussion of the nature and origin of the binary pulsar PSR 1913 + 16. It is shown that the system must have been binary before the creation of the pulsar. Main-sequence stars, white dwarfs, helium stars, neutron stars and black holes are considered as possible secondaries. It is shown that the pulsar component must have been a helium star before collapse. The companion is probably a neutron star, although a helium star or black hole cannot be excluded. We suggest that the pulsar was formed when a moderately massive (2 to 8 M(S)) helium star overfilled its Roche lobe and was stripped of its helium-rich envelope. Core collapse and carbon ignition followed rapidly, creating the neutron star we observe.