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Dennis Ritchie : A forgotten landmark

Updated on May 18, 2012

"Ritchie was under the radar. His name was not a household name at all, but... if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you'd see his work everywhere inside."

- Paul E. Ceruzzi

Sitting in front of your apple MacBook pro, listening to the fantastic world of iTunes and chatting with your buddies on your iPhone 4… life has been so easy by apple, by Steve Jobs but you know someone made making these easy for all computer scientists after him. Steve Jobs, no doubt was a visionary but Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie had a vision far too deep and more futuristic. He however was forgotten amidst the media hype Jobs received.

Ritchie was born on 9th September 1941 in Bronxville, New York. He graduated from Harvard University with degrees in physics and applied mathematics. In 1967, he began working at the Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center, and in 1968, he received a PhD from Harvard under the supervision of Patrick C. Fischer, his doctoral dissertation being "Program Structure and Computational Complexity". A genius American Computer Scientist he laid the base of the digital era.

He developed the mother of programming: THE C- PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE. C has varied applications in the fields of computer technology. It’s used in application, Operating Systems and Embedded Systems development. C-objective is the base of programming for most of the apple apps. C influences most of the modern programming languages.

He along with Ken Thompson developed the UNIX Operating Systems which established concepts and principles which are the precepts of modern computing.

Both this accomplishments led to his appointment to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988.

He received many accolades and awards for his evergreen contributions to the world of computers:

Turing Award

IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal

Fellow of the Computer History Museum

National Medal of Technology

Japan Prize

Ritchie died on 12th October 2011 after a week from Jobs death. His demise was not publicly acknowledged but his contributions live on, working microscopically as we listen to each song in a playlist, as I upload this hub, as you type……. RIP Dennis Ritchie.


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    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thanks Xstatic! I am glad you liked it,,, Sir Dennis' contribution to computer science is unparalleled

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Really interesting and a fascanating story of a man most of us never heard of. A nice tribute.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Hello Double kin, I am glad you connected... I am amazed by the fact that you work where Sir Ritchie crafted his genius...

      I would have loved to be present at that tribute..

      thank you for the kind feedback and yes... his achievements have made life easier for the stalwarts after him and for the commoners :)

    • doubleklm profile image

      doubleklm 5 years ago

      Great Hub!! Voted Up!! I also did a hub on Dennis Rithie right after he died, entitled "The Overshadowed Life Lost in the Technology Field in 2011". I am fortunate enough to work in the Bll Labs facility where Dennis worked to change the world. I'm happy to say that just last week, I attended a special tribute to Dennis Ritchie where all his achievements were honored and all his collegues spoke very favorably about him. Eric Schmidt of Google was also there to honor Dennis as he interned in Dennis' dpearment at Bell Labs!! A truly amazing man who has impacted society in ways most people have no clue!!

    • profile image

      mrtranslator 5 years ago


    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Thank you so much Angela...

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I feel very educated now! I didn't know this at all!

      I have gotten this article shared! Please feel free to comment to the others on the page to exchange sharing.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Ritchie... lays everywhere on the chips inside as we talk...

      thank you so much my friend Jon!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Pity, we never got to hear anything about him in the media. Thanks for bringing to light these pioneering achievements of his to add to our knowledge.

      Thanks for sharing this, Rahul. Sharing this.

    • jonmcclusk profile image

      Jonathan McCloskey 5 years ago from Cinnaminson, New Jersey

      I learned about him when in one of my computer programing classes, such a shame that he never received the fame that Steve Jobs had. Nevertheless, great men don't do great things to seem great. Great hub, shared by any means possible.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      thank yo shaini!

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 5 years ago from Delhi

      nice tribute

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      thank you for stopping by.. Jyoti Kothari sir

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 5 years ago from Jaipur


      Excellent information about a forgotten hero. Very good hub. Rated up and awesome.

    • profile image

      rituraj sharad 5 years ago

      nice tribute

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      a peacocks plucked feather doesnt loses its edge. bt sadly on the reality check its only a text material. a tribute to history, DENNIS RITCHIE.

    • profile image

      Namrata 5 years ago

      Gudone...He was so talented and we never knew or heard about him. I am actually impressed by his awards and achievements.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      rightly said catrus.. media can make or break or vanish any one and anything it wants to....

    • catrus profile image

      catrus 5 years ago from Philippines

      Very nice tribute to the late Dennis Ritchie. It's really sad how a genius like him has not been given the attention he deserves and was ultimately forgotten by many. Nothing against Steve Jobs, he was a genius as well. But Ritchie laid the foundations of programming. This is also proof of how influential media can be.