I discovered just today (01/26/2012) that Dennis Ritchie, one of the more prominent figures in computing, died. How was this possible, the news of the passing of such an important personality in the computer science community went silent for almost 4 months? The media barely covered his death, they something that stunned the world, just the same day: Steve Job’s death. The world is guilty of not showing their respects, just as it did with Steve Jobs. I wanted to write something to acknowledge Dennis Ritchie. Just as Steve change my life for being a believer, a visionary and a leader, Ritchie change it to create the science that supports almost everything I do (and even what Steve did). That’s a tall order to fill up, the word everything is BIG, so let’s check out some of his accomplishments:

  1. Creator of the C programming language. That along earns it quite an array of accolades and influence. Here are some ripple effects of this creation:
    • Without C, there is no C++
    • Without C, there is no Objective C
    • Without C, there no Unit OS, or Windows OS. No Linux, no Symbian, OSX, or iOS. Without these, there would be no Nokias, no Blackberries, no Androids, no iPhones or iPads.
    • Thanks to C, the words ‘programmer’ and ‘software developer’ became ubiquitous in society
  2. Because of C, software engineering and programming was made accessible to the masses, and became a ‘popular’ career path in university programs.
  3. Created the generic operating systems theory that supports the fundamental concepts of all modern operating systems.
  4. Implemented the UNIX OS. Again the ripple effects of this accomplishment are too much to list here.
  5. Author of “The C Programming Language,” also known as “K. & R.”, standing for Kernighan and Ritchie.
  6. Awarded the Turing Award in 1983 for his enormous contributions in the fields of computing and operating systems. The Turing Award is the highest distinction given to a human being for their contribution to the field of Computer Science.

His accomplishments were the foundation to the technology revolution we experienced in the last decades. The gigantic footprint Dennis Ritchie left in the world are in my modest opinion, far-reaching, transformational and revolutionary than anyone that left this world in 2011. He was certainly not the most charismatic and public person in the world, so the media didn’t like him as much as Steve.

This is image is trending today… for some reason 4 months after Ritchie died.

Here is another article making another side by side contribution.

I have nothing but great respect for both of these men. Without their dents in the universe, my life would have been a much different one. If you think Dennis Ritchie deserves your respect, share this with your friends, and let the world know that 2011 was the year when we lost two very important figures, and not just one.

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