FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Bell tolls for one of its own.
Friday, October 14, 2011 Filed in: Friday Surprise!, History, Technology
A couple of weeks ago I posted about one of our country's greatest research facilities, Bell Labs. Yesterday came the sad news that one of the Lab's shining lights has died.
Dennis Ritchie started working for Bell Labs in 1967 after graduating from Harvard with degrees in both physics and applied mathematics. This wasn't a tremendous surprise: his father Alistair was a scientist at Bell Labs and a seminal figure in switching circuit theory. The family business, and all that.
Dennis migrated to the relatively new field of computer science, where he made a name for himself by creating the 'C' programming language, co-authoring the definitive book on 'C', and - most dear to my heart - co-developing the UNIX operating system.
That dry list of accomplishments may not mean much to you, but a large part of what your computer does has roots in Ritchie's work. If you have a Macintosh computer, an iPhone or iPad, you owe him a special nod of appreciation: UNIX is the underpinning of the OS X operating system, which (in one form or another) is what runs all of those devices.
The development of modern software and the existence of the web as we know it wouldn't have happened the way they did without his work.
Thank you, Dennis.
-=[ Grant ]=-