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Main » Articles » ISSUE #7

Dennis Ritchie
We live in the era of IT and don’t know how contemporary technologies came to us, but all modern inventions are connected somehow with Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, the creator of UNIX operating system and C programming language. Have you ever heard about him? No? So, I am going to tell you about this great man.  

Dennis Ritchie was born in New York and graduated from Harvard University with degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics. After graduation Ritchie found out that he was more interested in IT than in Physics. He started his career in Bell Labs as one of the main developers of UNIX OS. Meanwhile, Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson were working on the programming language for UNIX system and by 1973 they created C.

UNIX had an excellent development prospect, because it could work on different computer platforms and its kernel was programmed using C, which became really potent programming language. Many commercial vendors, universities, and non-profit organizations started using UNIX and customized it. Eventually, the development of UNIX split into various branches of UNIX-like systems. One of these branches led to the appearance of Mac OS X (made by Apple for personal computers), and iOS (operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch). Another branch of UNIX-like systems led to the creation of Linux OS. This system is widely used by IT specialists. First of all, it’s absolutely free. Secondly, it’s "open source”, so any programmer can legally customize or modify it. Thirdly, it is a leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as supercomputers: more than 90% of today's 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux, including the 10 fastest[1]. There is also an operating system, based on Linux, for PDA, smartphones, electronic books, netbooks and tablet computers. It is known as Android OS.

C is the "father” of many other programming languages, which are used nowadays. In 1983 Bjarne Stroustrup added some enhancements to the C and called it C++. C and C++ are the most popular programming languages in the world and widely used for making systems and application software, entertainment software (for example, video games). All modern operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, and software for them are made using C/C++.

Ritchie received many awards but the most important was the National Medal of Technology of 1998. It was received from President Bill Clinton for inventing the UNIX operating system and the C programming language which, according to the citation for the medal,"led to enormous advances in computer hardware, software, and networking systems and stimulated growth of an entire industry, thereby enhancing American leadership in the Information Age"[1].

Ritchie died at the age of 70 on October 12, 2011, one week after the death of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc, but Ritchie’s death did not receive that much media coverage. Dennis was not a public person, nothing is known about his character and his family. People have never heard about him, some of them see nothing great in his inventions, but in fact it’s impossible to overestimate his contribution to the IT industry. There would be no smartphones and Apple products without UNIX and no development of Windows and software programs without C. That’s why I want you to know about Dennis Ritchie, the man who laid the foundation of IT development.

1. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Ritchie

Category: ISSUE #7 | Added by: Chuda (09-Dec-2012) | Author: Grigory Makogonyuk
Views: 1332 | Comments: 6 | Tags: C language, It, UNIX, Dennis Ritchie, National Medal of Technology | Rating: 5.0/4
Total comments: 1
1 Tatiana Likintseva  
Thank you, Grisha! I absolutely agree with you. People should know such names.

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