Most of you who follow the tech industry have likely heard of the passing of computer programming icon Dennis M. Ritchie (also known as dmr) on October 8 at the age of 70. While it could be argued that Linus Torvalds is more famous in today’s world than Dennis Ritchie, it’s quite safe to say that there wouldn’t be a Linux without Dennis Ritchie.
dmr created the C programming language which makes up 95% of the code base of the Linux kernel according to Ohloh.
It’s not surprising that C has been so instrumental in computing history, given its melding of close to the machine power with cross-platform portability. As Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica says: “By creating C, Ritchie gave birth to the concept of open systems. C was developed so they could port Unix to any computer, and so that programs written on one platform (and the skills used to develop them) could be easily transferred to another.”
In today’s world we take cross-platform computing for granted, but without dmr it — and modern computing — wouldn’t exist.
dmr was also one of the co-inventors of the Unix operating system, which obviously was the inspiration (but not the code base) for Linux and the base of all Unix varients including Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and BSD. Joe Brockmeier has written a great tribute to his life and achievements on ReadWriteWeb. I urge you all to read it and mourn the passing of one of computing’s giants.