In Memory of Dennis Ritchie (1941 – 2011)

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Steve Jobs passed away last week and it shook the world. He was a rock star. We discussed his impact on computing, communication and marketing. The computing world lost another rock star this week, albeit a lesser known one to the masses. If you are a programmer, though, Dennis Ritchie was every bit of the super star that Jobs was, if not more so.

Dennis Ritchie was the creator of the programming language C, one of the most widely used programming languages ever. You may have heard of C++, which began as an extension to C. Ritchie was also a key developer of the UNIX operating system.

Much of what you are able to do on a computer today is a result of what Ritchie’s brain has spawned over the last several decades. He may not have had the name recognition of Jobs, but he was incredibly influential in the computing experience. President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1999.

It is sad that we are approaching a time where we are going to start losing some of these titans of the computer industry. Their legacy will live on in what we are able to do as a result of their blood, sweat and tears. The titans of tomorrow will accomplish what they will because of the influence of men like Dennis Ritchie.

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