Father of UNIX and C passes away at 70

Dennis Ritchie – the co-inventor of UNIX and C – has passed away at the age of 70.

In addition to his work on UNIX and C, Dennis contributed to the Plan 9 operating system (1995), and the Inferno operating system, which was announced in April 1996. 

His final contribution to the UNIX system was a stream input-output mechanism for connecting networks, terminals and processes in a unified method.

Dennis joined the Bell Labs Computer Systems Research department in 1967 and retired in 2007.

He received numerous prestigious awards and honors for his work, including the 2011 Japan Prize for co-inventing UNIX and C; the ACM award for the outstanding paper of 1974 in systems and languages; IEEE Piore, Hamming and Pioneer medals, Bell Laboratories Fellow; Association for Computing Machinery Turing Award (1983); ACM Software Systems Award (1983); C&C Foundation award of NEC (1989); the US Medal of Technology (1999); and the U Penn Harold Pender Award (2003).

All of the above-mentioned awards were shared with Ken Thompson, co-inventor of UNIX and the C programming language and long-time friend of Dennis.

Ritchie, who was often referred to as “dmr” (his Bell Labs email address) in technical discussion groups, was also known for a few choice quotes, including:

  • “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party.”
  • “Usenet is a strange place.”
  • “UNIX is very simple, it just needs a genius to understand its simplicity.”
  • “C is quirky, flawed, and an enormous success.”

RIP Dennis Ritchie.