On Oct. 7th Dennis Ritchie quietly passed away. Most people probably didn’t notice nor knew who he was. This was the man that Co-invented Unix and invented the C Language.
Some people (myself included) have never used used or owned an Apple product, We have all used and benefited the from Unix and C, While Jobs in particular got rich off Ritchie’s work, he didn’t even have to sue to do it.
“When Steve Jobs died last week, there was a huge outcry, and that was very moving and justified. But Dennis had a bigger effect, and the public doesn’t even know who he is,” says Rob Pike, the programming legend and current Googler who spent 20 years working across the hall from Ritchie at the famed Bell Labs.
On Wednesday evening, with a post to Google+, Pike announced that Ritchie had died at his home in New Jersey over the weekend after a long illness, and though the response from hardcore techies was immense, the collective eulogy from the web at large doesn’t quite do justice to Ritchie’s sweeping influence on the modern world.
Dennis Ritchie is the father of the C programming language, and with fellow Bell Labs researcher Ken Thompson, he used C to build UNIX, the operating system that so much of the world is built on — including the Apple empire overseen by Steve Jobs.
“Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX,” Pike tells Wired. “The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on — is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they’re not, they’re written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can almost guarantee were written in C.
Unlike Jobs, Ritchie’s works were made available to the world. Unix was turned over to the academian world at Berkley, The C Language specification was released for all to see and use, he never sued anyone who used or enhanced his ideas.
Ritchie was the co-author simply named book “The C Programming Language“, The book is remarkable in its simpicity and clarity. In 274 pages Ritchie and Kernighan laid out the Specifications for the language, a tutorial, and insiders look at buildind a language and an operating system. All this in a book that can be understood by a technical novice.
The influence of The C Programming Language on programmers, a generation of whom first worked with C in universities and industry, has led many to accept the authors’ programming style and conventions as recommended practice, if not normative practice. For example, the coding and formatting style of the programs presented in both editions of the book is often referred to as “K&R style” or the “One True Brace Style” and, significantly, became the coding style used by convention in the source code for the Unix andLinux kernels.