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Computer Visionary Dennis Ritchie Dead at 70

He created UNIX, C programming languages
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2011 11:41 AM CDT
Dennis Ritchie, Computer Programmer Behind UNIX, C Languages, Dead at 70
Dr. Dennis Ritchie, Bell Labs Fellow, poses after receiving the 2011 Japan Prize at Bell Labs headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey, on Tuesday, May 19, 2011.   (Victoria Will/AP Images for Japan Prize Foundation)

(Newser) – Dennis Ritchie, who invented the C programming language and helped create the UNIX operating system, died last weekend at age 70. His death after a long illness was first reported by Google engineer Rob Pike. Obituaries popping up on tech sites hail his work, vision, and legacy:

  • “Ritchie's contribution to computer science cannot be overstated. … His vision, innovation, and hard work shaped much of what has come in the following four decades,” writes Lawrence Latif on the Inquirer. “To this day C is arguably the fastest, most efficient, most widely deployed high level programming language."

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  • The birth of C is perhaps not as well known as other legendary moments in the history of computing, but it “has as much claim, if not more, to be the true seminal moment of IT as we know it,” writes Rupert Goodwins in an extensive post on ZDNet. Ritchie was focused on “making software that satisfied the intellect while freeing programmers to create their dreams."
  • “C remains the second most popular programming language in the world … and ushered in C++ and Java; while … UNIX led to, among other things, Linus Torvalds’ Linux,” writes Rip Empson on TechCrunch. “The work has without a doubt made Ritchie one of the most important, if not under-recognized, engineers of the modern era."
(Read more Dennis Ritchie stories.)

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