back to article C and Unix pioneer Dennis Ritchie reported dead

C programming language inventor Dennis Ritchie is reported to have died. Rob Pike, a Google engineer and former colleague of Ritchie, said on Google+ that the 70-year-old, who was a founding developer of Unix and known as dmr, died at home over the weekend after a long illness. At the time of writing, Ritchie's web page on …

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  1. petur

    R.I.P. Dennis

    I encounter your work every day.

    1. 4.1.3_U1

      man man

      recurse ad infinitum.

      I hope this helps.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. OzBob
    Unhappy

    Very little debate needed about Dennis' contribution to IT,...

    "massive"

    printf("hello, afterworld\n");

  4. Paul 25

    K&R

    Don't forget that he also co-wrote "The C Programming Language" which I still consider the gold standard in how to write a clear and yet concise book about a programming language.

    Of course some of that is simply a reflection on the simplicity of C itself, but it was the first non-BASIC programming book I read and I have yet to read a more clearly written (and short) programming book that is not a "nutshell" style reference.

    It's also a great demonstration of why nerds need to be good communicators.

    For me personally this is a far more significant passing than Jobs, and I say that as an Apple user.

    It's a shame that so few people (including in the industry) understand how much we owe to the old guard of early software pioneers, many of whom are still kicking around.

  5. GrahamT
    Unhappy

    RIP dmr

    main( )

    {

    printf("goodbye, world");

    }

  6. Matt.Smart
    Unhappy

    A sad day

    A very, very important man, whose work has been fundamentally important in so many ways. It's even sadder that his passing will go largely unnoticed by many.

    Rest in peace, Dennis.

    1. John G Imrie

      free *dmr;

    2. Mr Brush

      Well said

      I read the C Programming Language 2nd Ed cover to cover on a number of occasions. It is as you say an excellent book.

      Then I bought Soustroup's C++ Programming Language expecting more of the same. Oh dear.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Mr Brush

        that would be "Stroustrup". Hardly the time and place to go bragging about your lack of reading ability and comphrension skills, now is it?

        1. John 174
          FAIL

          Speaking of Old School

          comphrension

          Ah, grammar nazi making a typo. As classic as C. Well, almost....

          1. Anonymous Coward
        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's a fucking typo

          What is wrong with you people?

          1. sheep++;
            Meh

            Re: Typo

            I'm surpised that so many technical people on this site make so many typographical mistakes - doesn't bode well for their software! I can only assume that they are in a rush and bash out a quick reply to a post. <grumpy done />

            1. 4.1.3_U1

              Typos

              Much as I hate typos I struggle myself to type coherently using this ridiculous touchscreen on my phone.

            2. Philip Lewis
              Pint

              Typist

              Those of us who can type at significant speeds know that windows is legendary for "losing" characters while it stalls momentarily to manage itself.

              Also, you will find many of the transposition and other errors are a direct result of the electrical path length differences between the right & left hand. Yes, your brain sent the messages in the right sequence, no they arrived out of order.

              As for DMR - one of the more significant figures of my age. Another sad loss for our industry. Who cannot recognise that big blue C? No one I know!

              Have one for me up there!

              philip

        3. Anonymous Coward 15
          Headmaster

          Comphrension?

          Muphry has been sighted!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Oh dear indeed.

        While I use C++ a bit more because some of it features I'd keenly miss for those programs that benefit from them, the language is just a bit too large to fit in an elegant book. I like that its warts and quirks turn out to have (often deep, tricky, or obscure but most always) technical reasons, but there's something to be said for a less complex and much more elegantly describable language, too. So I do convert things that need no more than C so that a C compiler is all they need. And yes, my "dot h" can all be fed to a C compiler, too.

        Tangentially, with the proliferation of integrated development environments and general reliance on graphical user interfaces, computer- and thus also programming language books have tended to include lots of screenshots, exploding the books and making them that much more vulnerable to version changes. IE this generates lots of "virtual dead weight" in computer related books. There are also quite a lot of titles now-a-days, but very few genuine gems.

        C is by no means perfect, but it did strike a chord somehow, as does the book describing it. Something to remember, over a glass, but also as something to strive for.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      delete [] dmr; // huh?

      /* one of a kind, pure C surely? */

      free(dmr);

    4. ThomH Silver badge

      I quite agree

      Goldberg & Robson's Smalltalk-80 book is the only other thing I can think of that even comes close, but K&R is the gold standard. Ritchie did tremendous work bringing elegance to the internal structure and organisation of computer systems and deserves every compliment already posted here and a million more.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I once drove by the AT&T building in Murray Hill.

      and the by-line should have said: system("init 6");

    6. Daniel B.

      free(dmr);

      1. stucs201

        A bit hasty to reclaim space...

        ...shouldn't we just content ourselves with ensuring his termination was done correctly:

        dmr\0

    7. Paul RND*1000

      Very much agree. As significant as Steve Jobs was in IT, Dennis Ritchie's impact was much deeper and wide-reaching.

  7. Mr Brush
    Unhappy

    :(

    Sad news indeed.

    No doubt his passing wil be overshadowed by the beatification of Pope Jobs I.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Totally unnecessary and disrespectful to the memory of both men. That the El Reg mods thought that this was acceptable a distinct lack of respect on their part too.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Down

        Whilst I largely agree with your first sentiment, I cannot agree with second. Firstly, the Reg mods doubtless have far, far better things to be doing with their time that acting as sentiment police or niceneess filters. Secondly can you even begin to imagine the uproar on these boards if people discovered that that sort of comment was being censored ?

        You may not like what people have to say here, but if you need a nanny to prevent you from hearing it, then can I suggest China or Saudi Arabia?

      2. defiler Silver badge

        Borderline unnecessary

        But completely true. Given the mainstream coverage of Jobs you'd think he could walk on water...

        One man created tools, and the other man created trinkets. Neither was evil, both will be missed. Dennis Ritchie will be missed by far fewer people though, despite having a greater effect. Hardly anyone you see in the street will know his name, let alone his accomplishments. Nobody will make a movie of his life.

        RIP, Dennis. My sympathies to his family and friends.

      3. Daniel B.
        Flame

        Dennis Ritchie

        Given the media coverage of Jobs, you'd think he invented boolean logic. Yet Ritchie has much, much, much more to do with modern OS and programming, yet he is being overshadowed by the iCult.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yep, just like when Ken Olsen passed.

          The man who built the company that made the machines that Ritchie used.

          The guys at at good old DEC changed the world just as much as and (probably more) than Jobs and Apple ever did.

          These were the guys that changed the way every company in the world worked, rather than just provide toys to the masses.

    2. Ilgaz

      Both are related

      You know, it was Steve Jobs who brought down UNIX (yes, OS X is still UNIX and even certified) and Objective C (still c) to hands of general public.

      Years ago, people imagined #login on a green monitor when you said UNIX, now some ordinary, a bit technically curious say "I heard this stability comes from the fact that it is UNIX with a nice interface."

  8. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Unhappy

    RIP

    Sad times ... a real pioneer.

  9. DZ-Jay

    Reported dead?

    So, is he, or is he not?

    Damn! Another of the good ones gone. Requiescat In Pace, Ritchie.

    -dZ.

  10. DZ-Jay

    void main() {

    break;

    }

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Stop

      err.. no.

      int main()...

      Or if you really want to be old school just:

      main()

      But this practice is deprecated these days.

      Please.. no void main () stuff. Probably won't make him turn in his grave, but I reckon you owe it to this guy not to do this :P Although in fairness, in some conditions (compiler, OS, embedded) it may not matter. But fix main up the way it's meant to be.

      And... one sloppy habit may mean others. Find these, and get rid of them, you'll be better for it.

      RIP Ritchie. I may not have met him, but I learnt a lot from him and his like. Those 3 lads (or more at Bell labs!) did more than we can probably ever appreciate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Shouldn't it be

        int main(int argc, char *argv[])

        1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

          Arguments

          One can leave out the arguments (it is acceptable if one is not using them, and the OP did not intend to) but most compilers will grumble about a void main declaration.

  11. TheOtherHobbbes

    As I'm sure many other alpha nerds will point out

    UNIX was deved on a PDP-7, then moved to a PDP-11.

    RIP dmr

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad News

    It was almost by chance that I found myself sitting in front of a Unix system and a shelf of manuals. For the first few months, I didn't realise that I was teaching myself the career that I would follow for the rest of my working life.

    With no previous computing background, I took to Unix, its philosophy, methods, and even the language of its documentation. This was computing, not marketing.

    The masses will probably never even recognise the name. The true innovators pass unnoticed.

  13. Gert Selkobi
    Unhappy

    Very sad news.

    I've read so much about the man's history and achievements and still rank "The C Programming Language" as in my top 2 tech books of all time, jostling for top spot with Stevens' "TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1 - The Protocols".

    A TRUE pioneer and innovator. Pretty much personifies those words, in fact.

    Rest in peace Dennis.

  14. Harry the Bastard

    at my desk with tears in my eyes

    this is sad news indeed,

    c (and unix) genuinely changed my life, my k&r, now battered and old, was the spark that led to two decades of the most fun i've ever had working, plus i got paid for it

    i'll be raising a glass to his memory

  15. Steven Pemberton

    "Unix paved the way for many, many operating systems, including Linux."

    To put it mildly. In fact most operating systems are just versions of Unix, or thinly disguised versions. Linux, Android, OSX. And most embedded systems, at least in my house, routers, NASes, and so on, run versions of Unix.

  16. John G Imrie

    dmr RIP

    main () {

    printf("Goodbye World");

    }

    1. Armando 123
      WTF?

      And by some logic that is too bureaucratic for me to follow, Windows NT was certified as a Unix system. Certainly the got BSD's IP code ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        semantics antics

        ISTR it was the "posix subsystem" of wnt that got certified, which may or may not still be supported, but certainly wasn't easily accessible (required to be separately installed? don't recall, but it was and is simpler to slap on cygwin or use mingw or something) and didn't come with much of any graphics support. Bit of a dead ducky in that pond. But hey, it could be certified and that's marketeering winings* right there. Windows NT was also designed by a well-known unix hater**, and that's clearly noticeable.

        While we're talking defining influences, Unix itself was a third system after multics and its second system effect ailments, so in a sense it started out as a "3.0", to lasting success. Which is curious, seeing the long history of antagonism, lawsuits, and infighting. But let's not dwell on that today, eh. It did get a couple things very right and the result is useful to this day.

        * typo left in.

        ** look it up if you don't believe me

        1. Armando 123

          Yeah, I'd forgotten about Cutler. Thanks for the reminder.

          I do remember pinging a fresh out-of-the-carton NT box when we were setting up servers for a new project and spending more than a minute wondering why I kept finding some BSD server when we had no BSD servers, only Solaris, AIX, and the new NT box.

  17. Yag
    Unhappy

    Sic transit...

    It sadden me to learn the demise of one of the father of modern computing science, Dennis Ritchie, inventor of the C language and one of the founder of Unix system.

    He belonged to this generation of forerunners, he was what we can called a computer genius, and he was really able to write three lines of code without having two compilation errors.

    He was one of those people who built their reputation of visionary thanks to their technical skills, and not only on their abilities of crushing their competitors, terrorize their underlings and screw their dummy customers.

    A computer scientist who never cared about the visual appearance of C, or how many hours are needed for a chineese factory worker for building an UNIX machine.

    Someone who helped the humanity to go forward, and who invented things that we could not live without.

    Someone that no one cares about...

    (Original by Asp Explorer)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "he was really able to write three lines of code without having two compilation errors"

      To be fair, it's pretty hard work coercing a compilation error out of a K&R C compiler.

      1. Armando 123

        "To be fair, it's pretty hard work coercing a compilation error out of a K&R C compiler."

        Apparently you've never worked with Accenture/Andersen ...

  18. Red Bren
  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIP

    *dmr = NULL;

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cue emotive comparisons with the loss of Jobs

    I hope I'm wrong. Please refrain.

  21. Dazed and Confused

    A truely sad day

    what more can I say.

    Been a few years since I've exchanged emails with him, but he was always very helpful.

  22. Kristian Walsh

    }

    Title says it all, really. A true technology pioneer, and someone whose invention really did change society.

    October hasn't been a good month, has it?

    1. 4.1.3_U1

      wtf

      Whojobs?

      Of course he was a great guy but it's not really in the same league.

      xoxo

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, foo.

    Rest In Peace guy who I've never met but whose language and system (well, a descendant) I use a lot.

    Goodbye Dennis.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    a good egg

    thanks for all the stuff - a /truly/ massive and significant contribution to computing,

    RIP dmr

  25. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Java

    I don't think it's fair to blame Dennis Ritchie for Java, on the basis that Java uses curly braces. You may as well blame him for the .INI file format, on the basis that it uses newlines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      .INI files?

      Better than the Registry!

  26. John Brookes
    Unhappy

    RIP dmr, VIP

    He was the last of my all-time heroes and then there were none :-(

  27. SynicNZ
    Unhappy

    Thank you for OS-X

    And Android, et al

  28. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Lasting Memorial

    Let's not forget that he brought us all the joyful experience of ...

    If ( var = 0 )

    Still it's sad news to hear.

    1. Andy Miller
      Headmaster

      Order ! Order !

      Always put the variable on the RHS,

      If ( 0 = var )

      It prevents compiler errors and is harder to read

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Order ! Order !

        it /causes/ a compiler error if the syntax error is inadvertently made, tsk, tsk

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Surely ..

        if (0==var)

        ?

        Or were you *trying* for an error ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 13:18

          swapping the operands when one is a non-lvalue so it is on the LHS (e.g. 0 in the example) causes a compilation error if "=" is present. It's a trick some people use to help prevent the mistake. It's not perfect because it doesn't work for comparisons of two l-values but it's popular in some places, nonetheless.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Stop

      Re: Let's not forget that he brought us all the joyful experience of ...

      Put your pet peeve in the context of this guy and his mates effectively making a cross-platform assembly language which has endured the test of time.

      Which you sound like you still use perhaps?

      My philosophy is if you play with guns and knives, and you hurt yourself, you've only yourself to blame. If you play with guns and knives, you'd BETTER know your tools.

  29. cmaurand

    And Plan9

    He also developed the Plan9 operating system.

    Requiem Aeterna, dmr, et lux perpetua.

  30. John Hosen
    Pint

    Very sad news

    And unfortunately hardly any media coverage unlike the hype over a certain turtle-necked jumper wearer who died last week. (I'm looking at you BBC News).

    Yeah, yeah, Apple made nice shiny things but without Dennis' work none of it would have existed.

    So let's raise a glass to Dennis, thank you for giving us UNIX and C.

  31. Conrad Longmore
    Thumb Up

    Multics and Unix-in-your-pocket

    Unix was derived in part from Multics, a venerable OS from the 60s and 70s which was tied to GE (later Honeywell kit). Ritchie worked on the Multics project and realised that it did some things very well, and some things arguably very badly (and there were a lot of arguments in the 70s and 80s). Unix of course won the day, mostly because it was relatively lightweight and wasn't tied down to specific hardware.

    People who read El Reg probably understand what impact Unix and C has had. Even though Joe Public has probably never heard of Unix, all iPhones (via Mach) and Android smartphones (via Linux) run an OS derived from the work Lell Labs and Ritchie did. And C is pretty ubiquitous too.

    It took nearly 40 years for the technology developed at Bell Labs to end up in everyone's pocket. I wonder what he thought of that?

    Thanks Dennis. The world is a better place for the pioneering work you did.

  32. Peter Galbavy
    Unhappy

    RIP dmr

    "If I have seen further is was by standing on the shoulders of giants." - How perfectly apt for my feelings today.

    I actually shed a tear when the news sunk in earlier. A great man and a great contributor to our world. Without him much of what we do - I mean those of us reading El Reg - would not be doing it. Simple as that.

  33. Peter Simpson 1
    Unhappy

    Very sad news

    RIP Dennis. The world loses another computing pioneer.

  34. SirWired 1
    Unhappy

    He changed my life far more than Steve Jobs

    K&R was, and remains, the only programming book I have just sat down and READ. It remains, decades later, as the shining example of what a programming book should look like.

    C was a good, solid, easy-to-learn language for it's time, but I can't say the world would be THAT different without it. But I CAN say that the way hundreds of thousands of programmers understand programming would never have been the same without him and the book he co-authored.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Unhappy

      C and Unix

      Take any contemporary bit of IT kit, be it a Windows box, a Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, Kindle, routers, sat-navs, etc, etc.....

      You will find that they are either based on Unix and/or created using C or one of its derivatives.

      Jobs had a big impact on a relatively small section of IT, Ritchie's work underpins almost all of it.

      A very great and sad loss to our profession.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      I wish I could say that...

      For my first machine was an Apple ][....

      So, as much as I *hate* saying this, I owe Jobs some. No Plenty. But nope, don't like that man. It's no secret of mine. It's like he turned evil or something. Either way, I wish Jobs well - he has left grieving people behind and it must have been a bitch to die of cancer.

      And, please, C still *IS* a good solid language, without which a lot of us would be doing stuff like mucking around with assembler or forths. Well we still do don't we ;).

      So RIP Ritchie... and yes, you too, Jobs.

  35. Mike Banahan
    Unhappy

    A nice bloke too

    I was fortunate enough to have visited Bell Labs and met Dennis Ritchie (along with Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan and Bjarne Stroustrup) in the mid eighties. What struck me, apart from the sheer intellectual horsepower he had, was what a nice bloke he was too.

    Having had the opportunity to share a beer and a pizza with him remains one of the more memorable moments of my professional life 25 years or so on.

    The work done by the Unix team (and he'd be the first to acknowledge the huge input of less well-celebrated people like Joe Ossana, Bill Plauger and many others) did change the world I knew, and in most respects for the better.

  36. The Real Loki
    Pint

    Really sad news

    I had lunch once with Dennis and Ken at the UKUUG in London in 1990 - really down-to-earth blokes and both are incredibly knowledgable.

    Sadly, the huge influence on computing will have passed without many having even been aware of his influence.

    I'll toast his memory at lunch....

  37. simonc99

    RIP dmr

    A very bad 7 days for the loss of visionaries in technology.

    Thanks for your contribution dmr, your influence on modern computing cannot be overstated.

    1. bitmap animal
      Unhappy

      Not just a bad week, a bad year. Don't forget it was only a couple of months ago that Tony Sale died.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    for(;P("\n"),R--;P("|"))for(e=C;e--;P("_"+(*u++/8)%2))P("| "+(*u/4)%2);

    Happy Days

  39. Armando 123
    Pint

    Sad news

    I'm sorry to hear this, but tonight at the local eatery, I will have a moment of silence and raise a corned beef on rye to him. (I'm off alcohol until I'm off some meds.) And I'll tell the kids about him.

  40. HollyHopDrive
    Linux

    Surely did more for computing

    ..that that jobs fellow.

    dmr a true game changer in computing / programming etc etc.....

    1. PJI

      You need both

      You need both, as with most good things. The Bell people and their predecessors were necessary to lay the foundations, build the tools to build the next generation. Jobs and his people were/are brilliant at using these to produce the technology in well designed, attractive packages of use to the "common man", to make it widespread and profitable outside computer specialists.

      C and UNIX, my bread and butter and delight for thirty years, was not doing well against Windows and others. Even Linux and Minix were just fringe activities in the wider world. Apple made it, is making it, mainstream. Android built on the market stimulated by Jobs, who built his on clever design and use of existing tools, most built on C and UNIX.

      You can not separate them. Both men in this case are extraordinary in their fields and all, including Windows phone and Android phone makers and users, should be grateful to both.

      Life is seldom "either or".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Spot on.

        I'm surprised by how few of the commenters seem to get that. The thing that sets Jobs apart from Gates et al was that he had an eye for good, clean and elegant design decisions (like the ones made by Ritchie and friends). Consider him an evil businessman if you will but at least his choice of technologies to use when building his evil empires wasn't based on tossing a coin (or even worse, breaking things deliberately).

      2. Conrad Longmore
        Thumb Up

        Exactly right

        Exactly right. Ritchie provided the foundations, Jobs made it usable for the masses. These two people are part of the chain of human progress.

  41. Hayden Clark
    Unhappy

    More prior art lost....

    As more of these great men, and the students who worked with them, are lost, the chances of another daft patent-of-the-obvious being struck down diminishes. We youngsters don't necessarily know all of what these pioneers cooked up as they created modern computing.

  42. dcd
    Unhappy

    R.I.P.

    Now THIS is truly sad news.

    My 30 plus years in I.T. can be attributed to what this man did.

    Off to dig out the bible - the K&R one that is, and a pint and a tip of the hat later.

    David

  43. Scob

    True genius

    Just did some more function pointers yesterday. Wonderful language. Wonderful OS. I owe you so much Dennis.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIP

    He died 5 days ago and this only comes out now?

    RIP dmr

    1. david wilson

      >>"He died 5 days ago and this only comes out now?"

      Maybe people wanted to tell family members and friends before they heard it on the news?

      It's not as if it's something that most other people needed to know in a hurry.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry about his legacy

    /* He will be remembered loooong after Jobs is forgotten. C influenced of so many languages. He is even remembered in an indentation style! */

    return;

  46. Cthonus

    I'ts a shame when the lives of vacuous airheads are paraded out endlessly in the broadsheets and public media that the passing of such an influential figure has gone largely unreported.

    Having spent a number of years in a bookshop flogging "Kernighan & Ritchie" yearly to the new intake at the local Uni I can attest to the longevity of his works.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like others commenting here, I owe my career to two of the things Dennis Ritchie played a major part in creatng - C and Unix. My ability to use those two technologies I also owe in part to Ritchie, as along with Stevens APUE, the second edition of the K&R C book showed me how to program.

  48. Natalie Gritpants
    Headmaster

    Drop the exit(0);

    That way you pass back the return value of printf().

    You never know, he might have taken stdout with him.

    Many thanks to DMR who has enabled me to make a nice living - sort of, I write Verilog.

  49. mfalcon
    Unhappy

    His work certainly changed my life.

    My development as a programmer went:

    1. BASIC. Mostly Applesoft at high school.

    2. Pascal. First language I learned at University. I was never much good at it.

    3. Fortran. Second language I learned at University. Much more to my taste.

    4. C. Third language I learned at University. I learned the basics in a weekend on a Pyramid 90x in the middle of 1986. Loved the language and have been using it ever since.

    I've learned and used other languages since then but C is my favourite.

    I'm currently a Unix/Linux system administrator but if ever asked I tell people that I'm really just a C programmer in disguise.

    Its worth pointing out that C had a huge influence on hardware evolution. The developers of the various RISC CPUs optimised almost exclusively for C and Unix performance.

    Sad news indeed.

  50. PJI

    history of C

    Somebody in one of these posts pointed out that C came from B. I would add that B was a derivative of BCPL from Cambridge University, England, a good tool that I used briefly. Curiously, Bourne, of Bourne shell fame, was also English (an Algol specialist), if I remember correctly. One wonders what it was about England, specifically Cambridge, that gave rise to this.

  51. fellcolor

    There is a straight line from reading the BOFH on Usenet in my mother's office twenty years ago, to installing Linux as soon as I could find it, to my first job at Lucent (with a brief stint on the Bell Labs side of the building maintaining the exptools distribution) to sitting at my desk typing this morning. The influence of dmr on this path is incalculable.

  52. BMG

    A dear friend and mentor

    I am very saddened to hear about Dennis' passing. My thoughts go out to his family.

    His contribution to the computing and digital world has paved the advancement of modern technology and as a result he has touched possibly every human being on the planet in one way or another - even if they don't know it! He will be forever remembered alongside other brilliants such as Einstein, Edison, Bohr, et al.

    RIP Dennis.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well..

    I'm sad for his loss as any human, but it's not like he did wonders for IT.

    C wasn't that good, almost indistinguishable from the assembler of the day. It still doesn't make sense nowadays if not for all the inertia. But I guess the ability to point out arcane features of the language makes many IT people feel intellectually superior.

    Pascal and a few others would have been a far better "default" language than C and VMS again a much better system than Unix (which was never even designed to be an operating system).

    But as jwz would say "Worse is Better" and wins any day. Can't argue with that.

    RIP dmr

  54. Andy Enderby 1

    .....even Microsoft and Apple owe....

    .... owe these guys big.

  55. Pseu Donyme

    exit(0); /* Goodbye */

  56. Vometia
    Unhappy

    :(

    A very clever and influential chap, and a thoroughly nice guy too. Very sad to hear this news.

  57. Mark Leaver
    Unhappy

    RIP Dennis

    Started programming in basic 32 years ago in high school (punch cards being taken to the local uni to be run as a batch for us).

    Went out into the real work to work as a manual labourer for the next 10+ years. Then 20 years ago, decided that I was going to get out of manual labour and start learning how to program in real languages.

    Started off learning Pascal to learn proper structured programming then moved to C, ASM and CoBOL in that order. C stuck as my preferred language.

    Because of learning how to program in C, every other C based language is learnt in weeks, if not days because of the basic syntax and semantics.

    I started using unix based OS's about 20 years ago as well. Before that, it was the ever dodgy (Q)DOS as supplied by good old MS. To be honest, I think that Unix hands DOS a serious arse kicking.

    return (dmr != null ? 'Hello World' : 'Goodbye World');

  58. LPF

    Sad day...

    I'm not going to get into the slanging match as to whose death is more important, I will leave that to the fanbois..

    All i know is this, as time passes the greats are moving on, one by one, and with each passing , it leaves the world that , a bit more dreay a place.

    I remember the 70 and 80 when all this stuff was new, and before the lawyers got involved , and the net was just a gleam in berner lee's eye. Spectrum/C64/Amstrad/BBC micro slanging matches , Elite.. those were truly the golden years :)

    RIP

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of good stuff to be remembered by.

    Didn't know the guy personally, didn't need to.

    K+R. A genuine classic in computer books, one many authors could learn from. My copy of the book went walkabout literally decades ago, and its replacement more recently, but the language is sufficiently compact and memorable that I don't actually need the book much.

    Thirty years or so ago, I read K+R, and "Software Tools (in Pascal)" co-written by the K in K+R. K+R changed the way my employers built programs, long after I had moved elsewhere. Sadly their first experience of C was via Whitesmiths, but they recovered eventually, especially once the VAX arrived.

    Respect is due. Sympathy to those close to him (including to bwk)

  60. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Sad day - sad week.

    Read K&R some 30 years ago. Definitive whilst learning C on a PDP11-05.

    Forgotten it now, but...Time to buy it again.

  61. Denarius
    Unhappy

    the years take more than they give

    title says it all. getting old.

    if [[ -s $dead ]]

    then

    RIP

    fi

    You and your associates created systems that gave me 20 years of interesting work, fun and decent pay.

  62. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Didn't anyone remember to put him in /etc/inittab as a respawn process?

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    while(1){

    printf("Thank you Dennis ");

    }

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Respects to dmr

    I'm counting the number of devices now that run using C, Unix or derivatives , and it all started in 1971 with dmr's code. Numbers must have tripled each year! Matchless contribution indeed.

  65. BoxedSet

    I think the K&R bible on the C language is by far my most read and referenced book (even more so than the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy!). A true legend and genius of the computer world. RIP

    He did so much more than Pope Jobs I and his collection of strokable, shiny bauble devices, zzz although we know who will be idolised more in the sycophantic media . . .

  66. Alan Welk
    Coffee/keyboard

    R

    Standing on the shoulders of giants, Rest in peace

  67. RightPaddock

    NYT Obit

    Dennis Ritchie, Trailblazer in Digital Era, Dies at 70

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/14/technology/dennis-ritchie-programming-trailblazer-dies-at-70.html

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