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Dennis Ritchie, Founder of Unix and C language, dead at 70 | Tech Pedias | mithil.me

Human Capital Dennis Ritchie

Published on October 14th, 2011 | by Mithil Bhatia


Dennis Ritchie, Founder of Unix and C language, dead at 70

Dennis Ritchie, founder of the C programming language and co-developer of the Unix operating system, has died at age 70 after a long illness.

Dennis M. Ritchie died on October 8 at his home in Murray Hill, New Jersey after a long illness. Many of you might not be knowing much about him, but we are using his work. Ritchie along with Kenneth Thompson created Unix operating system, for which they both received the Turing Award in 1983, but he is well-known as the creator of C programming language, the second most popular programming language in the world, according to a data report from TIOBE software.

Fundamental to many applications and modern operating systems, C paved the way for C++ and Java. For Unix, C set the stage for multiple Unix based operating systems focused on the market of servers, desktops and phones, Mac OS X (certain parts of which are based on BSD) and Google Android (which is based on Linux).

Jeong Kim, president of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs said in a statement that “Dennis was very loved by his colleagues at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, and is greatly missed. He was a real inspiration to us all, not only for his many achievements, but he was like a friend, an inventor and a humble and gentle human being. We would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Ritchie.”

Ritchie joined the Computing Sciences Research Center of Bell Labs in 1967. As a part of the restructuring of AT&T-90s, he became part of Lucent Technologies, where he worked till 2007, leaving the post of Head of the Department of Systems Software Research.

The challenge was to develop a Unix operating system that was portable, efficient and compatible with any machine, and that’s why they got Ritchie and Thompson, who launched the first edition of the operating system in 1971. “It’s very simple, it just takes a genius to understand its simplicity,” one of the famous phrases about Unix, Ritchie said.

However, the original Unix system was written in assembly language, which meant that a program had to be written in mnemonics of hardware, which led the two researchers to rewrite Unix in 1973 to make it more flexible. And so came the C language in picture.

Ritchie’s work on Unix was instrumental in the growth of client-server model when the computer began to move from individual machines to network environments. The versatility of the infrastructure and the ease in adding new tools were also important factors in his creations.

In addition to the Turing Award, Ritchie and Thompson received the National Medal of Technology in 1998 from the hands of former President Bill Clinton for their contributions to Unix and C.

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