The Old Geeks Are Dying Off – Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011)

Dennis Ritchie was one of the people who originally handcrafted the UNIX operating system, on top of which run most of the web servers in the world today. Then he and Brian Kernighan created the C programming language to assist in porting UNIX to other computers. More than a few older byte-bashers like me have a copy of “K&R” still sitting on our shelves.The whole language specification is in a pamphlet only ¼ inch thick.

The language described by that tiny book (the ‘C’ doesn’t stand for anything; it was just the third language they devised) is incredibly compact, a very machine-oriented language as opposed to a problem-oriented language, but with nested flow-control structures that make it easy to read and not impossible to write. Most of us who had encountered machine code or its near cousin assembler language were very appreciative when C came along.

And now Ritchie has stepped on that rainbow. Perhaps his rainbow is connected to an old-style teletype with a paper-tape punch… but I rather hope he’s been allowed to upgrade along with the rest of us.

R.I.P., Dennis Ritchie.

(H/T Bryan for alerting me to Ritchie’s death.)

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