Last week, we said goodbye to Steve Jobs, a man whose work had a profound impact on modern computing.
Today, we say goodbye to someone whose work reached even further.
Dennis Ritchie was the creator of the C programming language, and one of the creators of UNIX at Bell Labs.
Before C, operating systems were generally written in assembly language, limiting them to one hardware platform at a time. Ritchie created C so that UNIX could be written in a platform-independent way. It could be compiled to run on new platforms instead of having to be re-written.
C was born to create operating systems. 38 years later, it is still the #1 language for that job. Windows, MacOS, and Linux all have their kernel and other systems-level bits written in C.
C is one of the most widely used languages in history. Every programmer worth their salt has on their shelf a well-worn copy of The C Programming Language, written by Ritchie and fellow Bell Labs engineer Ken Thompson. The book is considered by many to be the best programming book ever – certainly the best book about a specific programming language.
Ritchie may be gone, but C and UNIX endure as two of the backbones of modern computing.