With the world still reeling from Steve Jobs' passing, yesterday brought computer users and programmers more sad news.
Dennis Ritchie died Wednesday at age 70.
Ritchie, together with Ken Thompson, co-invented Unix and created the C programming language at Bell Labs. They won the National Medal of Technology for their contributions.
Tech blogs have been filing heart-felt tributes to this man whose Unix servers run a good portion of the entire web. Here's what some of them have to say:
Alcatel-Lucent posted Bell Labs president Jeong Kim's statement:
Dennis was well loved by his colleagues at Bell Labs, and will be greatly missed. He was truly an inspiration to all of us, not just for his many accomplishments, but because of who he was as a friend, an inventor, and a humble and gracious man. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Ritchie family, and to all who have been touched in some way by Dennis. (Full post here)
While the introduction of Intel's 4004 microprocessor in 1971 is widely regarded as a key moment in modern computing, the contemporaneous birth of the C programming language is less well known. Yet the creation of C has as much claim, if not more, to be the true seminal moment of IT as we know it; it sits at the heart of programming — and in the hearts of programmers — as the quintessential expression of coding elegance, power, simplicity and portability.
Its inventor, Dennis Ritchie, whose death after a long illness was reported on Wednesday and confirmed on Thursday by Bell Labs, similarly embodied a unique yet admirable approach to systems design: a man with a lifelong focus on making software that satisfied the intellect while freeing programmers to create their dreams. (Full post here)
Today, C remains the second most popular programming language in the world (or at least the language in which the second most lines of code have been written), and ushered in C++ and Java; while the pair’s work on Unix led to, among other things, Linus Torvalds’ Linux. The work has without a doubt made Ritchie one of the most important, if not under-recognized, engineers of the modern era. (Full post here)
Good Morning Silicon Valley posted a quote on Ritchie's legacy:
“I read somewhere that, while he wasn’t as famous as Steve Jobs, that his legacy was on the same level. I totally agree. He created the modern interactive operating system.” (Full post here)
Ritchie had the lifestyle and habits to match his position as an early guru of IT. Long-haired and bearded, and famously more owl than lark, he started work at midday in his industry-standard chaotic office, emerging late in the evening to go home and carry on working through to the small hours at the end of a leased line connected to the Bell Labs computers....
His ideas live on, in the rudest of health, at the centre of modern operating system design, in new programming languages, and in every electron and bit of open systems. (Full post here)