LEGENDARY SOFTWARE ARCHITECT Dennis Ritchie reportedly died last weekend.
Google engineer Rob Pike reported that Ritchie had passed away at his home over the weekend after a long illness, at the age of 70.
Ritchie's contribution to computer science cannot be overstated. As the inventor of the C programming language and a co-inventor of the UNIX operating system (OS), his vision, innovation and hard work shaped much of what has come in the following four decades.
The work Ritchie did at Bell Labs helped make it arguably the most revered research lab in the world, and his collaboration with Ken Thompson and others to create UNIX informed and inspired several flavours of proprietary UNIX including AIX, HP/UX and Solaris, as well as BSD variants, Nextstep and its descendent Mac OS X, and the UNIX-like OS Linux.
Ritchie then set about designing the C programming language for use coding UNIX. To this day C is arguably the fastest, most efficient, most widely deployed high level programming language. While Ritchie designed C to be used on UNIX, just about every operating system has a C compiler, and operating systems like Microsoft's Windows are programmed using C.
Co-authoring The C Programming Language - referred by many as 'The C Book' - he was the chap that created the first "Hello World" program. The book is still a primary reference text in just about every programming class that teaches the C programming language.
Ritchie was jointly awarded the Turing Award in 1983 with Thompson for their work on UNIX, and he was head of Lucent's software research department until his retirement in 2007.
As Pike wrote of his friend, "the world has lost a truly great mind", and perhaps a man that is not given the wider recognition that he deserves. µ
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