RIP Dennis

Dennis Ritchie - Father of C and UNIX

Sorry about the inactivity. Tied up with work as usual. But the happenings over the last couple of weeks warrants a blog entry. Yes, I am talking about the death of two pioneers in the tech industry in their own ways, Steve Jobs and the incomparable Dennis Ritchie, the father of C and UNIX.

Although I am no fan of Apple and its products, I doff my hat to the great service Steve has done. He will never be forgotten. RIP Steve.

Dennis Ritchie, on the other hand, had a huge personal influence on me. If you have ever programmed in C and loved it more than your parents 😀 , you would understand why Ritchie’s death has such a profound effect on someone like me. Although I dabbled with C much earlier in my life, I dug deeper during my engineering studies. Traditionally, chemical engineers are accustomed to using FORTRAN for numerical simulations, which was also true in my case. But whenever possible, I would always code in C. Later, when I ventured into Theoretical Physics, it was C and nothing else. The trend followed during my Doctoral studies, where I developed all my tools in C.

Even now, I work with C on an almost daily basis, either writing some code, or doing some audits. The joy I had reading K&R is something that is irreplaceable. I still revisit the book time to time. Although there are other languages today that are far superior to C, I still look at C as the language that paved the way for the development of these other languages. C will never disappear and will always have its unique place and so does Dennis.

Dennis went further and together with Ken Thompson, gave us UNIX. For us BSD users, it is a loss that is irreplaceable. We wouldn’t exist without Dennis. It is fitting that the proposal to release the upcoming FreeBSD 9.0  in honor of Dennis is picking up steam. My support for this endeavor is unquestionable. I really hope that it gets realized. This will be a celebration of what he has given us and how he changed the world for the better.

It is up to us C and UNIX enthusiasts to keep him in our memories forever. Dennis, you changed the world and your contributions in furthering the technological revolution will never be forgotten and you will always be in out hearts and minds.

The following screenshot is a tribute to Dennis Ritchie.

Tribute to Dennis Ritchie

Here is another tribute. Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Happy coding in Heaven Sir.