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Dennis Ritchie RIP


October 13 2011

Just a few short days after Steve Jobs' sad passing, the great Dennis Ritchie has passed away.

Dennis Ritchie was one of the primary architects of UNIX and the C programming language, both essential backbones for the internet and computing today. All modern operating systems are written in Ritchie's C language or its derivatives C++ and Objective C. A derivative or clone of UNIX is used for many operating systems today -- Linux, Mac OS X, and iOS are all part of the UNIX legacy.

Unlike Steve Jobs, I had a few passing interactions with Mr. Ritchie about a decade ago on the Usenet group alt.folklore.computers. I was a much younger, and, looking back, disrespectful person than I am today. I pointed out that, with the release of Mac OS X, UNIX finally became a desktop operating system, contradicting a prediction he made in BYTE magazine back in 1995. Mr. Ritchie told me that he could not remember making this prediction; I found the relevant quote and posted it.

While I was correct, it was arrogant and inappropriate on my part to point out that he once, in some passing comments in a BYTE interview, made an inaccurate prediction. I wish I apologized to him for my behavior while he was still with us.

Like myself, Ritchie came to despise what the Linux movement stood for and the narrow-minded fanboyism many Linux "advocates" have. He was guarded about his criticism of Linux because he did not want to incur the same wrath Ken Thompson got from the Linux fanboys.

A moment of silence for the passing of another great in the computer industry.

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