R.I.P Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie, a pioneer of C language and the UNIX operating system died on Oct 8th, 2011. The tributes to Dennis Ritchie won't match with those of Steve Jobs who died last week due to illness. As a matter of fact half of the world won't be even aware of Ritchie's name. But I am writing this article as a tribute to what he has done in the computer world so far.

Dennis Ritchie was a notable American scientist who developed C language and helped creating UNIX operating system. He developed C that evolved from the language B which he developed at first in the Bell labs. He used C language to build UNIX. The original UNIX kernel was written in assembly language but later it was developed with a higher level language. Something that gave them more control over the data that spanned across the OS. He developed C programming in early 1970s which is still popular now and UNIX is the operating system on which most of the devices in this world are build on and that includes the Apple empire once overseen by Steve Jobs.

Pretty much everything on the web uses C and UNIX. The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel on which the internet runs on is also written in C, if not in C then they are written in other high level languages derived from C. C is the basic language for all the high level languages like C++, C#, Java etc. If we say that most of the modern internet architecture and economy is built on the work that Dennis did, then it won't be an overstatement. The UNIX operating system and its off shoot Linux, is widely used today in corporate servers, cell phones, set top boxes and other devices.

Even Microsoft windows was once written in C, while now its based on its derivatives like VC++. UNIX under pins Apple's Mac OS X and iOS which is used in iPhones and iPads. But Steve Jobs was the visible king while Ritchie was a dormant contributor to these. Ritchie built things that are used by the technologists to build core infrastructure that people don't see underneath, but they use it everyday.

Ritchie died at the age of 70 at his home in New Jersey, USA. I wanted to write an article for him so that the world knows about him and his noble contributions to the technology sector. He is truly an inspiration to all the software engineers across the world.

You can read his biography on Wikipedia.


  1. oh ya I did read about his death on another friend-s fb update.. a nicely written tribute


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