Unix and C creator Dennis Ritchie dies

Unix and C creator Dennis Ritchie dies

His influence? It could be too soon to say

Article comments

Unix mentor and creator of the C programming language, Dennis Ritchie, reportedly died on 8 October at the age of 70 after a long but unspecified illness.

Ritchie's influence on the today's computing world could accurately be described an incalculable.

Born in New York in 1941, Ritchie was from the generation of great minds that made its mark in corporate years of the 1960s, taking a Harvard degree in physics and applied mathematics to his first important job at Bell Labs in 1967.

Ritchie was a major influence the most famous thing ever to come out of that company, an operating system called Unix. First run up by colleague and fellow computing Ken Thompson in assembly language for DEC’s PDP-7 minicomputer, the pair later wrote the founding document of a software movement, edition one of the Unix Programmer's Manual.

Armed with an operating system that was to change the computing world, Ritchie set about creating C, a programming language that could be used to make system and applications for Unix machines.

It would be flippant to say that the rest is history but at the time it certainly didn’t seem so certain to the modest Ritchie himself. Asked why he toiled so hard to create C and Unix, Ritchie reportedly replied that it "looked like a good thing to do."

The C language was later used as the foundation of an object-oriented C++, which abounds in software to this day and of course Linux can be seen as a descendant of Ritchie’s pioneering brilliance.

In 1983 Ritchie and Thompson were awarded the Turing Award for which Ritchie penned the acceptance lecture, Reflections on Software Research. In 1999, the men also received the US National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton in honour of their work on Unix. Earlier this year, they were awarded the Japan Prize.

“He was a quiet and mostly private man, but he was also my friend, colleague, and collaborator, and the world has lost a truly great mind,” said former colleague and Google engineer Rob Pike on Google+, echoing the sentiment of hundreds of condolences offered underneath the announcement.

Ritchie will be remembered as occupying the very top echelon of computing achievement. 



  • Tinscuil This is the best epitaph Ive ever seen
  • Anumakonda Jagadeesh DrDennis Ritchie was a visionary and Father of Computer LanguagesDrAJagadeesh NelloreAPIndiaE-mail anumakondajagadeeshgmailcom
  • Sheira Gorris As a company that has trained over 3000 graduates in UNIX and began its business by offering UNIX training FDM Group has commemorated the life of Dennis RitchieCheck out what our CEO has to say about the pioneering efforts of this inspirational manhttpwwwfdmacademycomfdm-
  • John I think that all of you are losing your time discussing whats the meaning of the acurately in that sentence
  • Max Arcidiacono void int year for year1941 yearlt2011 year printfYear d Ritchie creates and enhances the C languagen year printfnYear d Dennis Ritchie RIPn year printfIncredible A milestone in computingn while 1 year printfYear d Thanks a lot Dennisn year source httpwwwmaxsoftprojectscom
  • null_bin The most famous thing to come out of Bell Labs was the transistor
  • dourscot I think accurately in this context is being used as a synonym for reasonably or fairly and without exaggerationAnd it is incalculable because as with all major figures some of his influence has yet to make itself apparent
  • tomgp The word accurately applys to the description as a whole not just the adjective incalculable ie the statement his influence is incalculable is accurateI suppose you could disagree with whether the statement is accurate or not I think it is but its a perfectly correct and understandable use of english
  • Furry Canary Cute Unhelpful but cute
  • c_sharp_c A lot of people dont know Dennis Ritchie But his work influences our live even more than Steve Job did just saying
  • Sandtreader It is accurate it just isnt very precise
  • Furry Canary I didnt say accurately incalculable whatever that might mean I saidHow can his influence be described accurately as incalculableHeres the sentencefrom the articleRitchies influence on the todays computing world could accurately be described an incalculableItdescribesRitchies influence asincalculableFair enough But then itattributes accuracy to that descriptionHow accurate To within a millimetre A year A gallon All Im saying is that the word accurate is inappropriate hereGet it now
  • Sandtreader Its not claimed to be accurately incalculable its accurately described as incalculable It is incalculable therefore the description is accurate--dmr
  • Furry Canary How can his influence be described accurately asincalculable Just saying
Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
* *