June 25, 2017

Unix creator Dennis Ritchie dies at 70

Another computing pioneer dies too soon. There are not many who can claim to have changed the course of human history, but Dennis Ritchie is one of those.

Dennis Ritchie, a pioneer in computer programming, has died at age 70. Ritchie created the popular C programming language and helped create the Unix operating software.

The C programming language, which Ritchie developed in the early 1970s while working for Bell Labs, is still popular. It has gone through a number of upgrades, and it is used for website development and other computer tasks.

The Unix operating software also surged in popularity. It and its offshoots, including the open-source Linux, are widely used today, in corporate servers and even cellphones.

Dennis Ritchie was born on Sept. 9, 1941 in Bronxville, New York, and studied physics and maths at Harvard University.

“My undergraduate experience convinced me that I was not smart enough to be a physicist, and that computers were quite neat,” Ritchie wrote.

“My graduate school experience convinced me that I was not smart enough to be an expert in the theory of algorithms and also that I liked procedural languages better than functional ones.”

Jeong Kim, president of Bell Labs, wrote in a blog post that Ritchie was “truly an inspiration to all of us, not just for his many accomplishments, but because of who he was as a friend, an inventor, and a humble and gracious man.”