Without Dennis Ritchie, you might not be reading this
Dennis Ritchie received the National Medal of Technology in 1998.
October 13th, 2011
02:03 PM ET

Without Dennis Ritchie, you might not be reading this

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)

Zdnet.com posted:

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)

TechCruch.com posted:

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)

CNET posted:

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)

Filed under: Brainiac
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    October 17, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  7. papertapebooted11/10

    Without Ritchie, who built the efficient bridge between hardware and thought, microprocessors would have entered consumer products such as PCs much later and slower. Therefore this man was essential to modern technology revolution. Can you imagine drivers written in Fortran, Lisp or Cobol, the standard languages at the time DR started? Or in assembly language, which was wildly variable with all the processor types around, at the time? The power of C is that it covers all levels from low to high abstraction. Most other programming languages continue to be an improvised occasional side track: Pascal, Ada, Java, Ruby, Python, all to be replaced by yet other hypes, of which the first compiler, interpreter or virtual machine will have been written in, you guessed it, the C language. Can anybody tell me what happened to Lisp, Algol, APL, Mumps, Dylan, Prolog, Smalltalk & derivatives? It does not matter what language you use: in the end programming requires human blood sweat and tears for any realistic system, usually in the corners where the expressivity of the anguage fails. This being true, I will happily shed all that human effort while programming in C and define my own world of abstractions.

    October 17, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  8. Sinju Stephen

    It's just a terrible, terrible loss. A void that can never be filled no matter what happens.

    October 14, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  9. André Fabian Silva Delgado

    please, dennis rithie was a celebrity for the world, he deserves a better importance and you must to post to him with more relevance in an channel important as the CNN.
    Dennis Richie we missed you, thanks for all you contributed for the humanity

    October 13, 2011 at 11:23 pm |