Creator of C Language Worked Late “in a Chaotic Office”


“Dennis Ritchie received the Japan Prize in May at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., for his role in co-developing the Unix operating system.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ obituary quoted and cited below.

(p. A7) Dennis Ritchie invented C, the computer-programming language that underlies Microsoft Windows, the Unix operating system and much of the other software running on computers around the world.

Mr. Ritchie was a longtime research scientist at Bell Labs, originally AT&T’s research division. Bell Labs announced that he died at age 70 [his body was discovered on October 12, 2011].
. . .
Twitter and other online forums crackled with tributes to Mr. Ritchie after his death was announced.
One came from James Grimmelmann, a former Microsoft programmer who now is an associate professor at New York Law School.
“If [Steve] Jobs was a master architect of skyscrapers, it was Ritchie and his collaborators who invented steel,” Mr. Grimmelmann wrote.
Long-haired and often working late into the night in a chaotic office, Mr. Ritchie fulfilled in some ways the computer-nerd stereotype. He was given to gnomic pronouncements on his creations.
“Unix is very simple, it just needs a genius to understand its simplicity” was one. Another: “C is quirky, flawed and an enormous success.”

For the full obituary, see:
STEPHEN MILLER. “REMEMBRANCES; DENNIS RITCHIE 1941-2011; Pioneer Programmer Shaped the Evolution of Computers.” The New York Times (Fri., October 14, 2011): A7.
(Note: ellipsis, and words in first brackets, added; name in second brackets, in original.)

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