If it was just the C compilers that went dark, I'd be of the mindset that it was just the right language at the right time - but it was all of them, from late comers like Metrowerks to all-ecompassing Borland, all springing up seemingly simultaneously, riding the wave of the personal computer revolution.
Without open source software, we just wouldn't be around; hacking in dark basements got us into this business, even while commercialization seemingly closed much of it down for the one that followed.
I'd say we were lucky - but then I'd mention things like FidoNet, and we'd look at our iPhones and think that maybe every young generation is the lucky generation. We're fortunate for having lived through the times he changed, to be the young, impressionable minds that were shaped by those early copies of K&R.
Funny how language books can leave such an impression. I can close my eyes and see two - the K&R C book, and that NextStep introduction to Objective-C. Early programming languages leave an indelible mark on us, like their creators on the language.
Now, I might disagree as to how much I learned from Emacs' source code, other than an otherwise unattributable violent tendency towards people carrying pointers...