Saturday, October 15, 2011

A crappy month, Dennis Ritchie powers down.

Dennis M. Ritchie 1941 - 2011

"...the number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected..."  
 - Dennis M. Ritchie 1972

Devices, from phones, to Televisions, Microwave Ovens to personal computers that use Unix type systems, today number in the billions.

Dennis M. Ritchie, one of the fathers of the C programming language and the UNICS operating system has died at the age of seventy.
This man worked at Bell Labs for nearly forty years and his contributions are manifold. I believe the world would be a very different place but for his achievements. The iPhone, Macintosh, iPad and other apple products operate using a descendent of his Unix system. Copyright problems with Bell Labs, UC Berkley forced the birth of the unencumbered Linux operating system which closely followed the fundamental design of Unix.  

It was not until Apple switched to Intel processors and Unix that I moved from Microsoft Windows machines to Apple. That change was the driving force for me to leave an area where I held (and still hold) a strong technical competency.
The Apple engineers ported to Unix and Intel in an incredibly short time and I believe a lot of the credit for this was the design philosophy of Unix.

Whilst many people have heard of Steve Jobs, alas, few will know of Dennis Ritchie or his compatriots Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna, but you can bet Steve Jobs knew them.

Dennis Ritchie deserves his place amongst the stars with Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon and so many other great men.

Geeks or nerds or what ever the masses call these computer scientists and engineers, their achievements are threaded into the very fabric of our modern world.

Vale Dennis Ritchie
1941 - 2011
A drink! A drink I say! Salute! Another unsung hero.

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