Dennis Ritchie, creator of C and co-creator of Unix, dies

One of the biggest names in the early days of modern computer programming has died. Bell Labs confirmed today that Dennis Ritchie, who created the C programming language and was the co-creator of the Unix operating system, passed away at the age of 70. A Google+ post from a long time colleague, Rob Pike, said that Ritchie died over the weekend at his home. There is no info on the cause of death but apparently he had been dealing with a long term illness.

Ritchie began working at Bell Labs in 1967 and soon started developing the programming language that came to be known as C. Around the same time he helped to develop the Unix operating system with others, including Ken Thompson, at Bell Labs which was programmed in the C language. In 1978, Ritchie co-authored the book The C Programming Language with Brian Kernighan which is considered to be the definitive work on C. He worked on a number of other projects at Bell Labs before he retired in 2007 although he remained a consultant to the company.

In his post today on the Bell Labs web site, its president Jeong Kim said, "Dennis was well loved by his colleagues at Bell Labs, and will be greatly missed. He 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."

Image via Bell Labs

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36 Comments

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I woudn't expect this to appear on the 'public' news outlets. It does not denigrate the man's accomplishments, it's simply a matter of public recognition (and not so much a lack of value for intellectual capacity -- think Einstein). Certainly, Dennis Ritchie is well-recognized in 'our' circles, but not in the general public....and really, who cares?

The musical analogy given above is also not good -- it's not about comparing Michael Jackson to Beethoven (both of whom are publicly well-known). A more apt analogy would be if there was a single person who invented musical notation, and also conceived of and built the first piano (or harpsichord or whatever). That individual would be revered for his accomlishments in musical circles, but most of the public would not know of him.

RIP Mr. Ritchie, and those of us who understand your accomplishments thank you.

I did not see one headline from most popular media outlets (except the New York Times). Nothing was mentioned on CNN, Fox News or MSNBC.

Unlike Steve Jobs, this guy actually was influential with the development of the C language and co-authorship of Unix. I should add, both technologies that Mr. Jobs heavily borrowed at both NeXT and Apple.

I don't mean this as a slant against Steve Jobs, but rather we don't seem to value much of an intellectual capacity here in the States. It's all about business sense and showmanship.

RIP btw... to both of these men.

Navan said,
#include<stdio.h>
void main()
{
printf("Rest in Peace, Dennis Ritchie");
}

You forgot the newline at the end '\n'. Use 'puts' instead if you don't need any parameters for printf.

I agree with your sentiment though. Ritchie was a legend.

Legend.

Unfortunately i am yet to see this reported on TV,
Celebrity culture where pioneers of human civilizations are nothing but props to be used by society.

I don't know guys, I wish Steve Jobs, Robert W. Galvin, and Dennis Ritchie to rest in peace. I believe all of them had huge positive contribution to our world, and I think it's okay that I respect them because it's undeniable that they are all great people. It's very sad that these geniuses pass away, I can barely handle these news coming up so quickly, right after each other.

ShareShiz said,
COMEON GUYS.. lets make this bigger than the steve jobs posts.

Dennis Ritchie was so much better than Jobs

RIP Dennis Ritchie

Wow, quite disrespectful to rave so hard just after both died.

GS:mac

ShareShiz said,
COMEON GUYS.. lets make this bigger than the steve jobs posts.

Dennis Ritchie was so much better than Jobs

RIP Dennis Ritchie

too soon.

For some reason this loss makes me a lot more sad, almost to the point of tears (keyword here is almost lol). Maybe because I never met the guy or knew what he was like.

RIP Dennis Ritchie.

Arceles said,
C Language heritage - Checked
Not as much publicity as Jobs - ............. please interpret my silence.

Maybe it's not just about accomplishments for everyone.
Now you may think he was arrogant and hence, not very important in your "heart for the person", but seemingly he must have had many fans and followers who also liked his other qualities, accomplishments, way of thinking etc...
He also was WAY MORE public and "famous".

But yea, judging by what they both did, this will be an unfair race.

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

Maybe it's not just about accomplishments for everyone.
Now you may think he was arrogant and hence, not very important in your "heart for the person", but seemingly he must have had many fans and followers who also liked his other qualities, accomplishments, way of thinking etc...
He also was WAY MORE public and "famous".

But yea, judging by what they both did, this will be an unfair race.

GS:mac

This only comes to show that the true brilliant minds are indeed very little rewarded.

It's a bit disrespectful to both of them to compare. They both made huge contributions, and we can leave it at that.

Simon said,
It's a bit disrespectful to both of them to compare. They both made huge contributions, and we can leave it at that.

I got this from a twitter post:
"Comparing Jobs with Ritchie is like comparing Michael Jackson with Beethoven"

Maybe people don't know Ritchie at personal level like they do with Jobs. /s

RIP and thank you for what you did, Dennis Ritchie.

morrizz said,
Maybe people don't know Ritchie at personal level like they do with Jobs. /s

RIP and thank you for what you did, Dennis Ritchie.

Yeah.. the wonder of "knowing" the famous.

lol

Rest in Peace, good man.
It's unimaginable how much we have to thank him for.
NIX is practically running everywhere, as Simon stated.
Even my toaster runs it! (Joke in good spirit)

BIIIG accomplishments!
I hope despite his illness, he didn't have to suffer too much.

Thank you, Dennis Ritchie.

GS:mac

Sad to hear his legacy will definitely live on, C is still a widely used and important programming language, and Unix seems to be everywhere these days (especially if you include Linux, although I know that's not technically valid).

Simon said,
Sad to hear his legacy will definitely live on, C is still a widely used and important programming language, and Unix seems to be everywhere these days (especially if you include Linux, although I know that's not technically valid).

Unix is rooted in many many things, bsd, Linux, os x, iOS, android..

Thanks for putting this on the front page. He will be missed and deserves recognition for his contributions to our computing life and world in general.