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Dennis Ritchie, The Father Of Computer Programming, Dies At 70

Dennis Ritchie was a programmer working in the Computing Sciences Research Center of Bell Labs in 1967 when he began his academic research, culminating in the development and release of UNIX in 1971.

From Unix to C

UNIX was originally developed in assembly language, an esoteric programming code that requires programmers to specifically tell the software which bits and bytes need to be shuffled, written, and read. Due to the difficult nature of programming in assembly, Ritchie opted to develop a new programming language, called C. By 1973, UNIX had been completely rewritten in C.

C was even more important than UNIX, in many ways, as it still serves as the foundation of modern computer programming. Languages like C#, Objective C, and C++ are three of the top five programming languages in use today. Without C, you would not be using a computer in the same way that you are now.

Today, both UNIX and C are both in widespread use, particularly in server rooms, where the combination of the two provides unmatched efficiency even by modern computing standards, and in mobile devices, where the same efficiency is used to minimize the size of chips, and therefore, the size of the mobile unit.

Ritchie also dabbled in cryptography, working on some of the earliest forms of digital cryptography with the NSA. In 1993, he received the Turing Award, the highest distinction in the field of Computer Science, for his contributions made to the computing community. In 1998, he was awarded a National Medal of Technology by the White House. In 2011, he was awarded the Tsutomu Kanai Award by Japan.

The Passing of Legends

In the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, Dennis Ritchie’s death seems to pale in comparison, but everything that Steve Jobs ever did was based on the work of Dennis Ritchie. For starters, the Mac OS operating system is based on UNIX, which Ritchie co-developed with several other individuals, including Robert Morris, who passed away in July 2011 at the age of 78. Without UNIX forging the way for personal computer operating systems, the iOS operating system would have never been built.

There’s more than a shared UNIX background tying Steve Jobs to Dennis Ritchie. All of Apple’s applications, from iPad Apps to Mac OSX programs, are written in Objective C, a successor to the C programming language which Ritchie developed.

As one of the pioneers of computing, we all owe Dennis Ritchie a moment of reflection on the vast contributions he made to the field of computing. He may not be a media darling, and you may not have seen the mainstream media cover his death for hours, but his place in computing history is forever reserved.

Written By

Posted by Greg Henderson, an Internet Marketer and SEO Associate for a cell phone lookup site, and an find an email address site



  1. Azam

    October 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I have read about the Dennis Riche first time when I was university student and I was taught C language in the first semester of the university.

    • Greg Henderson

      October 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm

      This is true, Dennis Ritchie was old school. Sad to see him gone.

  2. Maja

    October 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Different Languages like C ++, Visual C++ and C# have developed but their base is C language. It is often said that ” C is sea “. The whole reward goes to Dennis Ritchie.

    • Greg Henderson

      October 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Definitely, Maja. Great quote: “C is sea.”

  3. Addy Miller

    October 15, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Dennis Ritchie is my programing GURU, I grew up reading and answering questions like “who is the father of Programming”. Incidentally, the first programing language I learned then back in school was C….RIP Dennis Ritchie and thank you so much for the most revolutionary contribution, You were the source to what enhancements we see now.

  4. jorge

    October 16, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Well I’m sure he wouldn’t be left out with no credits. I never knew about him but I sure will tell others about him.

    • Greg Henderson

      October 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      He was an very forward-thinking individual Jorge. Sometimes since we progress so quickly in this modern society, we forget about those that created the foundation that we are build upon.

  5. Norgesautomaten

    October 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Read your blog..It is quite informative and interesting…Helped me a lot ..Thanks for sharing..nice article keep it up !!

  6. Bishwajeet

    October 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Without C, we wont have done any progress in any field. RIP Dennis

    • Greg Henderson

      October 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      C was a great innovation and one of the foundations. Great comment Bishwajeet.

  7. joe

    October 19, 2011 at 2:05 am

    He was one of the foundations of our modern world. wow!

  8. Danny

    October 20, 2011 at 7:25 am

    It’s sad how people don’t get the credit they deserve.
    Look at how many people know Steve Jobbs, although he deserves to be well-known and he worked hard and did a lot for the world, Without Dennis Ritchie he would’ve not been where he went (I mean with apple). But who know about mr. Ritchie except for “geeks”?

    • Greg Henderson

      October 27, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Ritchie was the man behind the curtain. I wish more people understood his contribution to technology.

  9. terry

    October 20, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    It’s not like it’s job’s fault or anything.. He still deserves the credit as well as dennis in my opinion.

    • Greg Henderson

      October 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      Ritchie and Jobs both deserve a lot of credit, no doubt about that.

  10. kevin

    October 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    It’s amazing how little we know about people like dennis.. tsk.

  11. Paul Web

    February 29, 2012 at 9:19 am

    The amount of remembrance dedicated to the two legends differ so much that it almost feels sad, but it is reality that people tend to forget about the change makers that they don’t see on the front line selling the products.

  12. Angel

    March 24, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I am thinking about taking a class to learn computer programming. Is it pretty easy to learn for someone who knows nothing basically? Will the teacher explain what all the complex words that make up the coding? Thanks

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