Dennis Ritchie, creator of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix operating system, has died aged 70.


Dennis Ritchie is an American computer scientist who invented the C programming language in 1972 for Bell Telephone Labs.  Ritchie is co-author of the definitive book on C, The C Programming Language (also known as K&R in reference to the authors Kernighan and Ritchie).  Ritchie also co-developed the Unix operating system, received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology in 1998.  Ritchie was head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007.

While the introduction of Intel’s 4004 microprocessor in 1971 is widely regarded as a key moment in modern computing, the contemporaneous birth of the C programming language is less well known. Yet the creation of C has as much claim, if not more, to be the true seminal moment of IT as we know it; it sits at the heart of programming — and in the hearts of programmers — as the quintessential expression of coding elegance, power, simplicity and portability.

Its inventor, Dennis Ritchie, whose death after a long illness was reported on Wednesday and confirmed on Thursday by Bell Labs, similarly embodied a unique yet admirable approach to systems design: a man with a lifelong focus on making software that satisfied the intellect while freeing programmers to create their dreams.

This is another loss to the Technology world after losing one of our best IT icons Steve jobs.