Dennis Ritchie–RIP

Just read Herb Sutter’s post that Dennis passed away. This is another huge loss for the technology scene over recent weeks. For me, arguably even more pertinent and more relevant than Steve Jobs. Even though I respect what Steve did with Apple, and have used his products at various times over the years (including trying to figure out how to eject a floppy from a Mac), I have never owned an Apple product myself. But my life, and the course of my life, has been profoundly impacted by the work of Dennis Ritchie.

 

Having graduated as an Electronic Engineer I quickly ended up writing software as an integral part of that career, and ultimately becoming what defines me. Although initially this involved various assembler variants, and other (electronic) engineering based languages, like Fortran, Ada and PLM/86, I eventually came to know and love (at times) C, and it’s derivatives like C++, C#.

I am sure most professional developer’s have the definitive tome on C by Kernighan and Ritchie somewhere in their book collection. If you don’t, I wonder whether you can call yourself a professional coder.

From Herb’s post I think this closing summary encapsulates everything Dennis Ritchie stood for, and what looking back those first unsteady steps into C started: “C is a poster child for why it’s essential to keep those people who know a thing can’t be done from bothering the people who are doing it. (And keep them out of the way while the same inventors, being anything but lazy and always in search of new problems to conquer, go on to use the world’s first portable and efficient programming language to build the world’s first portable operating system, not knowing that was impossible too.)

My condolences and thoughts are with his family and friends at this time, thank you for giving me the tools to do what I do and love.

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