More sad news in the computing world: Dennis Richie passed away this weekend after a long battle against an unspecified illness.
The passing of Dennis Ritchie is not going to get the same attention the passing of Steve Jobs did, which is a shame as I believe Dennis Ritchie contributed more to computing in more people's lives than Steve Jobs ever did, whether people know it or not. I know for certain that I wouldn't be doing my current job had it not been for Dennis Ritchie.
For those who don't know or who aren't quite sure, Wikipedia has a nice biography...
Ritchie was best known as the creator of the C programming language and a key developer of the Unix operating system, and as co-author of the definitive book on C, The C Programming Language, commonly referred to as K&R (in reference to the authors Kernighan and Ritchie).
Ritchie's invention of C and his role in the development of UNIX alongside Ken Thompson has placed him as an important pioneer of modern computing. The C language is still widely used today in application and operating system development, and its influence is seen in most modern programming languages. UNIX has also been influential, establishing concepts and principles that are now precepts of computing.
Who knows is Solaris would ever have happened had Dennis not help develop UNIX.
I think some of the tributes to Dennis have also been good and most of them quite geeky but of them all, I think James Grimmelman's tweet sums it up beautifully...
Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011). His pointer has been cast to void *; his process has terminated with exit code 0.
Rest in Peace Dennis Ritchie.