For those of us of a certain age, “The C Programming Language“, written by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie, was our “bible” as we learned to program in those very early days. Our copies of “K&R“, as many of us referred to it, got quite dog-eared and marked up as we used it to figure out this whole new world of “C”. It was an exciting time and a critical book to have.
Many of us, in fact, probably still have that book… the image accompanying this post is my copy that I pulled off of a bookshelf a few moments ago.
Today many of us learned that Dennis M. Ritchie, the co-author of that book and indeed the inventor of the C Language, passed away recently after a long illness.
While many of us stopped programming in C years ago (although many still do), it was the language that got many of us started in “serious” work… and also that formed the background of UNIX as well.
On that note, I had quite honestly forgotten over the years Dennis Ritchie’s role in the creation of UNIX, but as has been noted in many articles today it was he and Ken Thompson that started it all. Here’s a great video from the Bell Labs days showing both Thompson and Ritchie:
UPDATE: A couple of other nice tributes:
- Herb Sutter on how Ritchie did what people said couldn’t be done and also on the approval this week of the ISO C11 standard
- Sean Gallagher at ArsTechnica on how Ritchie was a giant upon whose shoulders we stand