Dennis Ritchie, designer of the C programming language, and co-inventor of UNIX — arguably two of the most influential computer science creations ever — passed away at 70. As my formative years in computing were highlighted by UNIX and C, I felt a bit of nostalgia as well as gratitude for “dmr”s contributions. I still think of the original K&R as the best programming book ever – when a colleague told me he was going to write a book on C, I couldn’t understand why – since K&R existed, nothing else need be said! In fact its conciseness greatly influenced my own writing style – some might say to a fault. Years later, I used the first edition K&R as guidance for the original DMTF DMI 1.0 spec (sadly, no longer available), which was somewhat ironic that I’d use it for a standards committee document:
When I read commentary about suggestions for where C should go, I often think back and give thanks that it wasn’t developed under the advice of a worldwide crowd.
— Dennis Ritchie
Tonight I spent quite a bit of time reading sections of his Bell Lab’s home page — technical materials and observations that I hope stays up for posterity. These are important artifacts that brought us to where we are now.
From an operating system research point of view, Unix is — if not dead — certainly old stuff, and it’s clear that people should be looking beyond it.
– Dennis Ritchie, 1990 Summer Usenix keynote speech
UNIX, if you don’t know, is the basis for the software that runs Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iPhones & iPads, and lots of other stuff. Not too shabby.
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