Friday, October 14, 2011

RIP Dennis Ritchie

This probably isn't a face you're familiar with.



Unlike Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie wasn't a public figure. He was an engineer, and the programmer, and the inventor of, among other things, the C programming language, and the UNIX operating system.

For most of you reading this blog, those two things probably don't mean much. Today, we take things like computers, and the Internet, and the voice translation software I'm using to write this blog post, for granted. Today, these things are a part of our everyday lives. 40 years ago, however, it was a much different story. 40 years predates the Internet by 20 years, give or take, and the personal computer by another 10 on top of that.

40 years ago, Dennis Ritchie was inventing the things that would make much of what we have today possible.

Just to give you a little perspective, the C programming language and the UNIX operating system, while still in existence today, are more commonly known as the forerunners of much of the technology that runs today's Internet. The programming language known as Java is the direct descendent of C and today Java exists in everything from Internet Web servers to the Android phone you might hold in your hand. UNIX is just as prevalent. UNIX still runs a significant percentage of the Internet and it is the forerunner of commonplace technologies such as Mac OS X, which just might be displaying the blog post you're reading right now.

So grab yourself a beer, or a soda, or the libation of your choice, and raise a toast to Dennis Ritchie because without him this world would be a much different place.

2 comments:

Kamille Elahi said...

I was sad when I found out he'd died because I hadn't found out through the internet. It's a shame there's not been much coverage about his death.

*raises glass* To Mr Dennis Ritchie. May you rest in peace.

Jon said...

Nice post, Shawn