Friday, October 14, 2011

Dennis Ritchie, RIP

I initially learned to program computers in Pascal, then was forced to do so in several other languages for reasons that don’t matter here. The day I first started programming in C language I knew that I was in love with that language. C is elegant, powerful and an absolute delight to work in. Today what little programming I still do is done for website “data back end” work in PHP, which is derived from C. Why do I bring this up? I’m glad you asked.

Previously I denigrated the passing of what I regarded as a phoney iCon when Steve Jobs died. (Do you like the little pun there? It’s at several levels, you have to think about it.) My nephew was a little peeved, but he’s returned to my comments, so I think I’m back in his good graces again.

This past weekend we lost someone who truly changed the technology world in major ways when Dennis Ritchie died at the age of 70. This was the man who invented the C language and drove the development of the Unix operating system, and I will always claim that the unsung hero is the best kind of hero. The men I most admire are the ones who do stunningly important things and do not feel the need to dress it up in bells and whistles and strut on a stage to show it off.

Steve Jobs gave us glitz and glamour; Dennis Ritchie gave us the Internet.

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