Some thoughts on the passing of Dennis Ritchie, computer titan

It is odd to think that one of the most important people in the history of computers just died and most people don’t know who he is. I would like to think people would link to know about Dennis Ritchie. A good place to start is here: Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On | Wired Enterprise |

To be honest, it wasn’t just Steve Jobs that stood on his shoulders. Everyone did, and everyone continues to. AIX, Linux, Sun Solaris, the Android OS and Mac OSX all derive from the work he did. When you combine iOS and other UNIX based OSs, you can say that most digital devices in the world are based on the work Ritchie did. Not to mention all the other things that the WiReD article points out. When it comes to digital technology, it really is Dennis Ritchie’s world.

Another thing I would  like to point out is the work he did on this book:

I would argue that this is the best technical book ever written. It is like The Elements of Style of technical books. It is is concise, clear and comprehensive. It even has something I think is really innovative: a chapter zero. This was brilliant in two ways: one, it allowed new developers to get started writing useful code without having to know too much about the language (a great incentive to keep learning) and two, it made alot of sense to start at chapter zero, because the language itself starts counting at zero for some things (e.g. arrays). I still have my copy of it, and for simple algorithms, I will pull it out to use as an example, since the code is so well written.

So not only did Dennis Ritchie pioneer (with others) the UNIX operating system and the C programming language, but he cowrote the best technical book ever written. More importantly, all of the work that came after his was influenced by him.

That is why you will see so many technical people lamenting his death. He truly was a titan.


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