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RIP Dennis Ritchie (a real innovator and IT-God)


Dear world,
Please stop, I want to get off. The obsession of other people with consumer nonsense is pissing me off. Steve Jobs, I’m sorry you’re dead, but no more please. Front page news – you were nothing more than a capitalist money-hoarder and media skank, you may have already read my previous rants about that matter (tame compared to what I feel like unleashing – but won’t because I just feel sad) but I’ve just learned of the death of a truly great innovator. Dennis Ritchie, a man some of you may not have ever heard of died last weekend. I’ve only just heard. Nothing on the BBC news page, in fact nothing on a Google news search either. I heard via word of mouth from a fellow geek (thank you Tomaz).
“Who was this man?” I hear the non/pretend geeks amongst you ask. He only helped create the two most important computer software developments ever. This is the man who wrote C. Not helped create, not collaborated on, not financed, not “the ideas man”. He wrote it. That’s the computer programming language that almost everything else in use today is derived from. He then co-wrote a book (with Kernigan) on the language. This would be enough to put him right up there. Was that enough for Dennis? Nope, he then went on to be a key developer in a new operating system written in HIS language. It was called UNIX. If you haven’t heard of that then let me go on to explain that without it the world really would be a different place. Unix is what linux is based upon, it’s what sits underneath OSX and actually allows it to give you that swish looking interface, it’s in your pocket (android/iphone/nokia/non-name-brand-cheepo-phone), fuck I dare say bits of it run your washing machine.
Without Jobs you’d have a phone in your pocket that does pretty much everything an iphone does. You’d have and mp3 player just as good as an ipod. You’d have a computer that does everything your mac air can do.
Without Ritchie you may well not have any of the above - we may well be still using punch-cards (figuratively speaking).
Why haven’t you heard of him if he did all this? He didn’t run a company. He didn’t seek fame. He was a geek – we don’t like daylight very much let alone TV cameras and stage lights. He was a private man who worked away quietly and contributed to your life whether you knew it or not.
Thank you for making my life richer Mr Ritchie. I’ll not only light a candle to you, I’ll send a Christmas tree packet to every router and switch I can reach from here.
Requiescat in pace
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