ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tribute to Dennis Ritchie

Updated on October 16, 2012

Dennis Ritchie Remembered as a Computer Pioneer

The programming world was shocked to hear of the passing of Dennis Ritchie on October 12, 2011. His impact on the entire world was substantial but unknown to the vast majority who received benefit from his work. Similar to Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie was a visionary who was able to advance technology with his work. Dennis, however, was as much out of the public eye as Steve was in it. It has been noted that without Dennis Ritchie, Steve Jobs could not have thrived.

Dennis Ritchie developed the C programming language in 1969 while he worked at Bell Labs. This application building tool allowed incredible flexibility as it could be used for any purpose from financial accounting systems to games to device control. Languages prior to C, such as COBOL, were designed to accomplish specialized tasks, like currency tracking, but were completely unsuited to other purposes. Other languages, such as Assembly, were able to perform more general tasks but required great amounts of labor to develop, test and implement complete applications. C bridged the gap and allowed application designers to accomplish any task with a good level of productivity.

Dennis Ritchie clearly envisioned that the world required a programming language that was easy to learn, allowed programmers to be productive and would run on practically any computer that could be invented. The language compiler itself was written in C which allowed new systems to support C much quicker than other programming languages.

C, like most programming languages, is written as English text files containing particular instructions that have meaning to the C compliler. A very small C program text file might look like this:

#include "stdio.h"

main() {

printf("Hello World");


This program displays the words "Hello World" on the computer screen when it is run. The language compiler reads the text file and translates the specialized English words into computer instructions. There is a minimum of preparatory work for the computer programmer, compared to many other programming languages.


Dennis Ritchie worked with Ken Thompson and Brian Kernighan at Bell Labs. Together, they developed both the C programming language and the UNIX operating system for computers. In more than 40 years since the advent of these tools, millions of computers have used tools developed in whole or in part by Dennis. The impact of his work cannot be underestimated.

Dennis Ritchie's Book Available at Amazon

This is the quintessential C programming reference. Named "K and R" in honor of the authors, (the first letter of their last names). This book is a mixture of knowledge, anecdotes and humor. Since C is the basis or inspiration of many other languages, reading this book can give programmers an understanding of how many technical languages work. This is often extremely useful even if someone is not intending to use C.

Programming Poll

Do you know the C programming language

See results

The C Programming Language on YouTube

The Essential Point of the C Programming Language

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do.

Dennis M. Ritchie

Share your stories or comments about C here

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)