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Rob Pike: Dennis Ritchie has died (plus.google.com)
1958 points by fogus 1925 days ago | hide | past | web | 196 comments | favorite



There are several billion people using many billions of devices every day.

From the code in your microwave to massive computing clusters, virtually all of our software can trace its ancestry back to this man's intellectual output.

I'm eternally grateful for his life and contributions to humanity.


Exactly. It's hard to even really comprehend how deep his influence goes; we're so surrounded by it's hard to even see it sometimes.

Consider that every single person reading these words are doing so using technology he created -- after all, even if you're not on a UNIX derivative you're probably on an OS and web browser written in C.

How much code is written every day in C and its descendants? How much more in languages that themselves are written in C?

dmr is part of an very small group of computer scientists that truly changed the paradigm of computing for everyone everywhere (Turing, von Neumann, Engelbart, ...) As long as there are ones and zeros his name will be remembered.


Well, I don't know… I feel that as soon as I mention Pascal or BASIC I am downvoted to oblivion.

The original Macintosh was programmed in assembler. As was MS-DOS and Windows up to version 3.1 (perhaps even in important parts in Win95?). The big boom of computing and the GUI had already happened. In the late 80s Turbo Pascal was really popular: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal_(programming_language) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbo_Pascal

For GUI programming there was (and is) the Pascal dialect Delphi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embarcadero_Delphi

What would the world look like if C would have been never invented? I guess our browsers would simply be coded in Turbo Pascal dialect.

And Visual Basic is still huge (#12 on langpop.com). Also someone could reasonably argue that from the concept and ideas SmallTalk and Lisp were way more influential than C.

That said, I feel a bit dirty to make this argument. Dennis Ritchie should be praised for his accomplishments.


Regarding your last point, while the ideas of Smalltalk and especially Lisp are influential, C may have just as much a claim to influence. Both Lisp and C are beautiful abstractions, the assembly languages of two abstract machines. While Lisp is powerful, C is such a profound success because the C abstract machine is very close to how computers actually work.


More properly: "while Lisp is powerful, the C abstract machine has largely shaped how computers actually work".


I keep hearing that computers are diverging from the kind of architecture C maps to, though. What of that?



I'm fairly sure much of both Delphi and VB are written in C.

I wonder what the Turbo Pascal compilers were written in...


Assembler. In particular, TASM.


Absolutely. Half of the world uses Unix flavours be it linux or any other OS( Mac OSX) , most of the realtime critical apps run on unix. Most of the primitive codes are written in C , first language most people learn is C(atleast for me).

With Unix and C , he has changed the way people think of computers and the way of talking to them.


"UNIX is very simple, it just needs a genius to understand its simplicity." -- Dennis Ritchie. RIP.


Sums up my feelings too. dmr is a legendary computer scientist who in all fairness had more impact on the field of computer science, and programming than any one of us can even begin to fathom. True legend.


good summary, we owe gratitude too him for so many things...


My question is if he didn't create a language like C, would someone else have? Was it such a leap from existing languages?


The same thing can be said for pretty much every invention/innovation ever made even if it was a huge leap from the prior art - but then he was the one who did it and I guess that is what matters at the end


a) Maybe. b) Yes.


This is really sad. Dennis Ritchie has made an incalculably huge contribution to the tech world.

I know most here would be aware, but he is a father of both Unix and the C language, technologies which are the basis for nearly everything we as developers do. He helped write K&R, which many regard as _the_ book for C programming.

This is the passing of a legend. Sincerest condolences to his family and friends.


Not only is K&R _the_ book for C, it's an example for engaging, lucid, just-right technical writing that any technical manual should strive for.


That book is a reminder of a time when Wrox & friends weren't trying to crank out 5 lb tomes on .NET SOAP Interoperability. So many modern books read like a student trying to pad out a page count for a professor.


I agree, K&R is a landmark.

Then again, so is AoCP.

Wrox is skinning a different cat by trying to provide the FM which no longer comes in the box.

Ritchie knew how to provide just enough back in the days when just enough covered the vast majority of cases.


I wonder what will happen to books like this, as these guys pass away. For instance, I don't see updated versions of Stevens' books, which are classics in their own right with regards to network and systems programming on Unix. I learned a ton of things from those, and wow, they're sure beautiful books.


Hey @davidw.

We can hope that they might receive similar treatment as John Ousterhout's "Tcl and the Tk Toolkit" did. JOs work (including TatTT) is often held up as excellent writing as well. The second ed. of that book was updated by a group of experts w/ JOs blessing, but w/o his participation if I understand correctly. Indeed @davidw was a contributor to that project ;) (thx. david.)


The conciseness of this book is what I enjoyed the most, just think it could have been 1000 pages, even more...


In a way I owe my job @ IBM which I got right out of college to that book.Of the many many C books at that time , K&R was obviously the one that was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of explaining C and how to write C programs in a very lucid/concise/Beautiful way and the guys interviewing me were particularly impressed that I almost had memorized K&R and gave me the job which I have to this day


DR was someone I looked up to since writing my first C program on a VAX mini-frame. RIP.


Not the tech world. The world


If you have used technology of any sort over the last few decades there's a pretty decent chance that you've used technology that Steve Jobs had a significant impact on.

But the chances are 100.00% that you've used technology Dennis Ritchie has had a deeply profound impact on.


Including all of the tech that Steve Jobs had a significant impact on.


Exactly. When I first found out about dmr, I really really hoped the stories will flood in here after the massive Steve Jobs amount. Not to take anything away from Steve, but dmr is far more important in my opinion, and I'm sure many other geeks would agree. I'm glad he isn't just quietly being forgotten like I feared he would.


Let's not compare the two legends. They made their own marks in vastly different ways. Both magnificent. I love them both. RIP.


Lets compare HNs reaction over them two.

Steve Jobs: Two days full frontpage of crying and "I remember him like this like that" and "wish I could have had the time to suck his penis"

Dennis m Ritchie: One post, most comments discussing relation of news to Steve Jobs.

Great going HN.


Just for the historical record, at 8:00am EST there are 12 stories on the front page about Ritchie's passing.


I think Steve Jobs's passing away was a bigger shock to people because the memory of him and his accomplishments was/is very fresh in people's minds. He was the CEO of Apple till just over a month ago.

It's like finding out a friend passed away and "I just met him last week..."


DMR created. SJ inspired.

let's not compare both.


Great ideas in great work, great people never die.


They were both the Ada Lovelace of their fields.


let's not compare both.

Ah yes, the cognitive dissonance of an Apple fanboy developer who knows that C is far more important than anything SJ ever did yet can't reconcile that with their belief that SJ was god.

Shame on Hacker News's audience that the front page isn't filled up with Dennis stories right now.


Shame on Hacker News's audience that the front page isn't filled up with Dennis stories right now.

Right now 14 of the top 15 stories are about Dennis Ritchie.


Yeah, that wasn't true when I made that comment earlier. I'm happy that the community seems to have come to its senses.


Your comment reeks of fanboyism much more. Don't litter the frontpage posts on our heroes with bitter comments please.


I love dmr. nobody's questioning dmr's contributions to computer science and technology. I love them both.


Don't litter the frontpage posts on our heroes

Speak for yourself. Steve Jobs was not my hero. I respected him but did not like him one bit.


Our heroes = Your hero (Richie) + my heroes (Richie, Steven)


I usually spell a hero's name right.


grats


There's no shame, there just aren't the same type of stories about Dennis. Ritchie was a hacker, he created amazing things that were ahead of their time which have enabled a great many developers to build amazing things (including essentially the entirety of the infrastructure of the internet and the web). But so much of Ritchie's work was enabling and mentoring rather than directing and guiding (which was more Jobs' MO). How many tens of thousands of developers were enabled to do amazing things by Unix or C? How many developers had moments of inspiration and enlightenment as reading through K&R enabled them to achieve a higher level of sophistication in their programming skills? But how many of those examples make for good storytelling?


I meant "stories" in the journalistic sense.


You know, something what Apple did was actually important and inspiring to some. Let me present a little of Pascal code: http://www.computerhistory.org/highlights/macpaint/


  > C is far more important than anything SJ ever did
That's like saying the paintbrush is far more important than the paintings of Michelangelo or da Vinci.


We don't have one historical person who invented the paintbrush. It's prehistoric probably. But we do have Ritchie.

And yes, ge gots to be far more important because he's first in the food chain. He invented the paintbrush and went on inventing the art itself.


No, it's like saying the invention of the paintbrush is more important - and frankly, it is.


A paintbrush is indeed far more important than the painting of Michel Angelo or da Vinci from an historical point of view.

On top of that, there are thousands of programming language today, many relying deeply on concepts and paradigms that are much younger than C itself, but C remains one of the most used languages. Not only C is very much used, it's still the only option in many cases and it is by far, the language that is most used to implement other languages, or at least to bootstrap them.

Considering the age of the paintbrush comparing to, say, spray ink, your analogy is in fact, not only valid, but a very good one.


No, it isn't. Da Vinci used a paintbrush to paint. Steve Jobs did not use C to program, because he never wrote any code or even designed anything according to at least one verifiable source[1].

It's more like saying the paintbrush is more important than anything some really successful art dealer ever did.

http://reprog.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/steve-jobs-never-had-... (the book mentioned in the blog post, not the post itself)


I am one of the biggest dmr and ken fans in the world.

dmr and ken are definitely the pioneers, they're like elvis and jerry lee lewis.

sj is bob dylan (inspirational)

larry page and sergey brin are milli vannili (one hit wonder copy cats)

and bill g is linkin park (he just plain sucks)


horrible analogy and horrible fanboism


But Dennis didn't wear black turtlenecks everyday so obviously he's less important.

</sarcasm>


Both Jobs and Ritchie were important men. I don't know what you think you are going to accomplish here. Your posts are about neither of them, they are all about you.


I'm merely citing the fluff that has occupied Hacker News recently such as http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3100278.

What sane, non-obsessed person gives a flying fuck what uniform someone wore and why they wore it?


Merging of tech, fashion / hiring the "best" for design, etc.

Branching out from engineering vs design (where so many say "I'm a coder, not a designer" and, making the point, that sometimes, you should invest (even by hiring), into "design."

I dunno, seems relevant to building applications for layman.


Not the Apple II or the original Mac really (which was all Pascal and 68k ASM). (Lisa definitely took cues from Unix.) Not detracting from Ritchie's contributions, but be fair.

Even Ritche was building on B and Algol.


I wonder how many people here got to know Ritchie through "The C Programming Language", I am sure half of us have it on our shelves.

It is amazing how many lives a single person can touch directly and indirectly.

I hope Ritchie passed away knowing the unforgettable contribution he made to the world as we all move forward on a platform he set down for us more than 30 years ago.

What an awesome legacy to leave behind. Thank you Dennis.


Actually when I read the post just now, I went to the shelf and picked up my copy of it and just placed it on my desk, he had a major impact on my life.

I "feel" more of a loss about Dennis' passing than Steve's.


I know what you mean, there is all that nostalgia of going through that book so many years ago and learning the programming constructs that would benefit all of us professionally for years to come.


Indeed. I was saddened by the dead of Steve Jobs. And although I comprehend his contribution to humanity, I was never "personally" touched by his products (e.g. I have never owned an Apple product).

Dennis Ritchie is a different thing. As other people have pointed, in my opinion there is no current technology that was not "touched" by the contributions that R&K did. Being it Unix or C, these are two of the most important software creations in history.


I'm old enough that K&R was the bible when I started with Borland's Turbo C 1.0. Another sad day for computer science.


I started with Turbo C++ 4.0 in 1994 as a geeky 8th grader. You're evoking some powerful memories. A tremendously sad day.


alnayyir, you've been hellbanned. In case you didn't know.


Although this makes his comments only viewable by comment-necrophiliacs like us and are unchallengeable by reply. It's like alnayyir is a zombie gadfly. Creepy.


That must've been one seriously downvoted comment to get someone with over 2000 karma to a -2 average.


It was a series of comments I believe, in which he began taunting the people downvoting him to downvote him more.


AFAIR, average is only counted on your last 50 comments.


hellbanned?


Meaning his comments don't show up to anyone except for himself. A way to ban someone without him noticing it, so he doesn't create a new account.


Banned users are not informed of the ban. New comments are quietly autokilled. This particular user, iirc, was a frequent poster who was notable for their additions. Which I'm guessing is why they've been told.

Viewing comments with showdead on is good but it makes viewing the new page difficult when half the page is auto-banned links.


    #include <stdio.h> 
    main()
    {
        printf("goodbye, world\n");
    }


Considering the tragic nature of the situation, the exit status should be nonzero.

    #include <stdio.h>
    
    int main(void) {
        printf("goodbye, world\n");
        return 1;
    }


What if he died peacefully?

    return 0;


Dying peacefully is still dying.

    return 1;


All things die, and I consider him successful.

  return 0;


"... the exit status should be nonzero. .."

true but it's from P7, "C progamming language", pure K&R.


Style considerations in the other replies aside, this had the same hit-you-in-the-chest impact on me as the Jobs' logo. Kudos.


You mean:

   #include <stdio.h>
   
   main() {
      printf("goodbye, world\n");
   }


It's true, he preferred the brackets formatted this way.


For functions declarations, K&R style says braces open on new lines.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indent_style


it is a sure-fire way to distinguish between developers who learnt to code a while ago from K&R and those who didn't.

I can't stand looking at braces on new lines. It is all from back when a new line was something to be treasured as displays were bad.


Actually, my copy of the second edition K&R seems to have the opening brackets on new lines when it comes to function declarations, so:

main () {

but: while (){ and: if(){

I don't have a copy of the first edition at hand but I seem to remember that it uses this same style.

//msl


The first edition has opening brackets for functions on a new line. It also used a space before parenthesis for while loops and conditionals. Return types, when required, were on the same line as a function name.


Exactly. On a 24-line VT100 display, you bet that every line was important!


As should we all.


Any chance we could get the guy who did the Steve Jobs Apple logo to take a wack at doing one for Dennis?

I've never met Dennis but I've talked to him on the phone a bit, and exchanged a pile of email over the years, all about various Unix topics. Though I was nobody, he was always polite, always patient, always willing to pass on knowledge. I'm quite grateful to him for taking the time to exchange ideas and polish them.

bwk is the same way. We were working on extending awk to be, well, different (we made awk scripts be part of awk, so any statement could be a script and it could pipe to another script). I talked bwk about the idea and asked if I could do on top of his awk and the next day a tarball showed up of ~bwk/awk, had the source, all the regressions, the source the awk book, everything.

I love these guys, they did a lot of things I admire.


I didn't have anything to do with any of the Steve Jobs Apple logo tributes, but here's my take on a Dennis one:

https://plus.google.com/109834643338395014064/posts/CWHKvH7d...


http://blog.tagxedo.com/rip-dennis-ritchie-father-of-unix-an... is good (second post on HN right now, so you've probably seen it]


Is it possible for you to share the awk tarball you mention?


To remember[1]:

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie was an American computer scientist notable for developing C and for having influence on other programming languages, as well as operating systems such as Multics and Unix.

He received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology 1998 on April 21, 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007.

"C is quirky, flawed, and an enormous success."

- Dennis Ritchie, on The Development of the C Language[2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Ritchie

[2] http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/who/dmr/chist.html


Black bar, definitely deserved. Thanks pg.


Two visi0naries lost in one week. Unfortunately, Dennis Ritchie's passing will not get the level of coverage of Steve Jobs, but he deserves it. Without his critical contributions, the UNIX core of Steve Jobs' great products could not exist ...



For example, explaining the history of operator precedence in C:

http://groups.google.com/group/net.lang.c/msg/3651ddf298937d...


"Sorry, we could not find any information on research!dmr." -- google

Well then, here are some of his first usenet posts: http://olduse.net/blog/Dennis_Ritchie/

The one on dsw is especially good.

    SYNOPSIS
         (put number in console switches)
         dsw
         core


Hit reload a few times and it'll come up. Google Groups has been flaky for a while now.


Dennis was a friend. It is very sad to learn of his passing. We are all indebted to him for his many contributions to the field.


70 years. That's a long time to be alive! He was born in the middle of WW2, lived through the cold war, seen the collapse of the soviet union, etc.

Me? I was born around the time the Linux OS hatched and the internet is starting to open up.


Folks are gonna look back and think, "Damn, kiba lived through periods of profound change!" as well :)


70 years isn't long at all. 100 is the new old:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centenarian

With a bit more research, many people could live to be 90-100.


Sorry, I'm not a 20 something saying wow 70 is a long time, I'm closer to 50 than 40 so I can almost see 70. I was trying to provide some perspective on 70 not being old. It should still be a very productive time in peoples lives, and it's still way too young to die.


Alan Turing would be 99 if he were alive today.


And he would have been if social conservatives hadn't destroyed him.

god damn I fucking hate them.


Turing's destruction is more complicated than just prosecution by conservatives. He had access to extremely secure information over a period of years, this is what drew attention to his homosexuality.

When someone gets a security clearance, what do you think is looked for? Not many spies or people who eventually divulge information to an enemy country have explicit ties, eg. they aren't a member of a communist party. What is investigated are characteristics that would make a person likely to be influenced: debts, addictions, gambling problems or, as in Turing's case, some sort of socially unaccepted lifestyle.

Around the time of Turing's conviction, several other homosexuals had been convinced by the soviets to become double agents, eg. Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess. Turing also made regular trips to the continent to pursue sexual relationships. This is what inspired the indecency charges. That's my understanding at least.

Please understand, what happened to Turing was terrible. No one deserves that fate. I really do wish he could have escaped somehow. That said I don't think the situation was as simple as social conservatives destroying people.


The reason they could blackmail those people was that those in charge had made homosexuality illegal. None these defections had to happen and nobody seems to think Turing was embaressed about his homosexuality, so if it is not illegal what would there be to blackmail him about?

And what happened wasn't terrible. Losing your best friend to cancer is terrible. Accidents are terrible. This was entirely done by monsters (they may be of the species homo sapiens but they aren't human) and it was a monstrous crime.

Edit: sorry, that is the last time I will write hn comments from my phone


> done by monsters

If you believe that every despicable act in that past was done by monsters then you will waste your time looking for monsters. Instead you should be looking for human beings, who always have justifications, they are the ones who will be doing the despicable acts of the future.

You absolute ignorance of the events you are ranting about does everyone a disservice.


He probably would have lived longer, but living to 99 is pretty rare.


His brother was superintendent while I was in high school. We asked him to invite dmr to come in and give a speech once, but understandingly dmr was too busy and had to decline. If dmr was anything like his brother, he was a great person and will be missed greatly. RIP, you changed the world for the better.


I learned BASIC and 6502 assembly in high school then went to college where the main language was Modula-2 on an IBM 370. I hated Modula-2 and wondered how people actually wrote those cool programs on PCs. It just seems like all the possibilities of assembly really weren't there. It just seemed wrong.

Took an optional language class in C which used the K&R C book (draft ANSI C edition) taught on the VAX and was finally able to say "Oh, I get it now". Bought Turbo C 2.0 and had a blast.

This is just a truly sucky month.


I'll have to admit, I didn't know who Dennis Ritchie was. I remember seeing his name on the Unix Haters Handbook but that was it. Noticing the black bar, I googled and now, I'm enlightened. It's a pity many will never know his name or his contributions but if it means anything, this here Computer Science student would like to say Thank You Mr. Ritchie for all you've done.


It almost seems impossible to imagine men like Ritchie leaving us. His efforts helped usher in the modern computing age.

While he is no longer with us in person, may his legacy never be forgotten by those of use who have had the honor to stand on his titanic shoulders.

Truly he will be missed.


Just looking at the stuff on my desk, the only things Dennis Ritchie has not directly or indirectly contributed to are two photos, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver and a salami.

Cellphone? Check. Harddisks? Screens? USB devices? TAN generator? Wacom tablet? Applet remote? Mac mini? MacBook Pro? Camera? Check, check, check.

Thanks, Dennis Ritchie, for helping to create the foundations of computing as we know it.


Those photos, scissors, screwdriver and even the salami probably involved using a computer at some stage. So he did contribute indirectly.


I used to read The C Programming Language every year. As a amateur tech-writer, it has influenced me greatly (that and _why's work).


While I dabbled with the language before, The C Programming Language book was a true eye opener for me. Grokking it truly paved the way for my programming career.

RIP Dennis Ritchie.



#include <stdio.h>

main() { printf("Thank you for creating me\n"); printf("RIP,Mr.Ritchie\n"); }


Didn't know him personally, but his work has been an inspiration to me for nearly 20 years. RIP.


I read K&R at university in 1986 and found it to be a model of clarity, spent a year supporting Turbo C for Borland when it was first released (that improved my language knowledge no end)

Biggest problem was the first Turbo C compiler folded floating point constant division back to front which makes one of the early programs in K&R (Centigrade to Farenheit conversion) fail. That got fixed fairly quickly.

He leaves behind a truly amazing legacy of C, *nix and the K&R book.


Damn.

That hit me harder than I would have thought possible.

The family of man is poorer for his passing, regardless of how few may know why.

Wow. I don't know if I'm at a loss for words, or have too much to say, but I'm really having a hard time putting my thoughts into a brief post.

Rest in peace, dmr.


One of the most influential people in the world whose contributions were immense. He will be sorely missed.


For some odd reason I pulled my 1978 version of The C Programming Language off the shelf and it's been on my desk for the past few weeks.

Beneath the copyright notice it reads:

"This book was set in Times Roman and Courier 12 by the authors, using a Graphic Systems phototypesetter driven by a PDP-11/70 running under the UNIX operating system."

Probably on a VT100 with drafts printed on a DECWriter.

Quiet. Brilliant. Deliberate. Influential. Modest.

May you rest in peace.


His great works had such amazing style -- simple, elegant, meaningful, effective. I think this sentence, which he not only co-authored but also executed on, summarizes it in plain English, all the more so when you read it from the small book in your hands.

"C is not a big language, and it is not well served by a big book."

These words have guided my writing as much as anything in Elements of Style.


It's a testament to the quality and reach of his vision that these words are coming to you via systems that recognisably Unix and written in C _40 years_ after Ritchie (and colleagues) created their progenitors. His work has literally defined generations of operating systems and languages and seems likely to continue to do so for some time. What a great...


While this is very sad, I think he would have wanted us to remember that working in a field so young that you have occasion to mourn people who built its foundations is inherently exciting.


black stripe on top of hacker news is really nice touch out of respect


Very sad. His contributions to the world were huge. RIP.


They were huge, and still are. 40 years on, his work is the basis for a lot of what's interesting in tech right now.


I noticed every computer around me, be it a laptop, a phone, a TV or a router, runs some kind of Unix.


Live free or die!

Dennis lives somewhere in time.


free(DennisRitchie);


DennisRitchie = NULL;


next_newborn = calloc(1, sizeof(WORLD_CHANGER_ST));


DMR was one of my heroes. Rest In Peace Sir.

I learned C from the first edition of K&R back in 1989 (iirc) on an Atari ST using the Sozobon C compiler. Happy memories (except for learning to combine pointers and loops and null terminated strings correctly! :-)


When I was a student a professor joked that computer science wasn't really a science because all its founders were still alive. Well, now it certainly must be one.


Either you're quite old or your professor forgot about Alan Turing. :/


I'm didn't know the man but it's always sad to see one of the greats fall.

I seem to have mislaid my copy of the 'The C Programming Language', which is a shame as it is one of the few of the many programming books I have purchased over the years that continues to be relevant in this fast changing (and exiting) field.

RIP dmr, my condolences to your family and friends. You will be missed and your contributions appreciated by hackers the world over.


RIP. It seems they are into a big project up there.


C, like thousands of other computer science students, was the first language I learnt.

I have always felt that a language is only as popular as the niche it serves. For C that niche started out as OS implementation and expanded into driver programming, UI programming, embedded systems programming, graphics programming, and many many more disciplines.

There was Fortran and PL/1 before C, what made C so popular? I will let dmr's friend Brian Kernighan answer it:

C is perhaps the best balance of expressiveness and efficiency that has ever been seen in programming languages. At the time it was developed, efficiency mattered a great deal: machines were slow and had small memories, so one had to get close to the efficiency of assembler. C did this for system programming tasks--writing compilers, operating systems and tools. It was so close to the machine that you could see what the code would be (and it wasn't hard to write a good compiler), but it still was safely above the instruction level and a good enough match to all machines that one didn't think about specific tricks for specific machines. Once C came along, there no longer was any reason for any normal programmer to use assembly language. It's still my favorite language; if I were marooned on a desert island with only one compiler, it would have to be for C.[1]

If I have to pick one reason for C's popularity, it would be pointers (both function and data) alongwith type casting. IMHO this was the combination that not only gave you full control of the underlying hardware (other languages had done that too) but most importantly it enabled other programming paradigms, (functional, object oriented etc.), while doing that.

Thanks for introducing us to the wonderful world of computer programming. RIP DMR.

1. http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/7035


RIP. His life exemplifies:

“Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing Knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.”- Peter Senge


An exemplar of elegance and clear thought. RIP and thank you.


I remember attending one of his lectures on Plan 9 back in 1996 at Bell Labs. It's a shame he's gone now.


I still remember the first time I picked up K&R. I tried my best to devour it. The technical prose makes the book a tour de force. Every time I write a new "hello world" program from now on, I will add a "Thanks dmr" at the end. May you rest in peace dmr.


Goodbye, Dennis. It's been just over 30 years since I picked up K&R and started programming in C and using 7th Edition Unix on a PDP-11/45. And C is still among the languages I program in today. You'll be missed.


RIP Dennis.

I was an uninterested Computer science student bored with writing stupid BASIC programs. Then I got introduced to C which made me realize what studying computers is all about. Then I got to know Unix and Linux. I still remember the day I got my Unix login. I was the first student to get one! My college projects (Linux clusters, routers), my geek friends, my first job and my professional life - all got started by learning C & Unix in a remote university lab thousands of miles away. I'm sure this is a story shared by millions. Thanks dmr! You are a legend!


I wish I could say I met the man, but it doesn't really matter to me because in a way I've got to kinda know him indirectly through his work; through UNIX-likes and what little I know of C.

So RIP, you crazy tinkerer.


c--; /* to echo a sentiment expressed on g+ */


This has been a sad week.

Whenever I'm learning a new language, I always look for but fail to find a book with the clarity, conciseness and completeness of K&R.


Ditto.


Very sad. RIP, dmr.


I'm far more struck by this than Steve Jobs' death.


K&R is the only book that I have currently three copies. Two editions in English and one in Greek. RIP DR


Rest in Peace, Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie. True Hacker Knight, Shinning Armor.

This is just for you. You will be missed.


Condolences to family and friends. C was my first programming language. Owe a lot to this man.

What a sad week.


"I'm not a person who particularly had heros when growing up."

Thank you for being one of ours, RIP Dennis


To paraphrase the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren - if you seek his monument, log in.


The K&R textbook is still my programming "bible". I don't use C on a regular basis, or at least as not as much as I'd like to, but still refer to it, even so. IMO, people should learn C first - teaches the right principles.


RIP Dennis Ritchie. I can't honestly say that I've spent an entire day at work over the last five years without looking at something that was either created by him or inspired from his work.


very sad. I love the writing style of 'The C Programming Language'


Because of Dennis Ritchie I can type these words and others can read them.

;_;


Goodbye Dennis. You were a giant. You'll be missed.


Dennis Ritchie. Hello World. May he rest in peace.


How sad. RIP, dmr.


I you have ever used a computer or any programming language , it means that you used some thing that has Dennis Ritchie's impact.


I still have K&R on my shelf.

Thank you, DMR.


Мир праху твоему, пусть земля будет пухом. /* Рус. / Rest In Peace / Eng. */


It's a sad month.


RIP Mr.Ritchie !


Rest in peace.


thanks Ritchie,for your great contribution, Without you ,I'm sure,we won't be what we are now. RIP.


This is an unusually good piece.


The |s, the |s are calling.


.


Father of modern software


We owe You Dennis...


I'm really sad...


int main(int argc, char argv[]) {  struct passwd pw = getpwnam('dmr');  restInPeace(pw->pw_uid);  exit(0); }


i'm from russia and very bad know english...

RIP


RIP master.


free(dmr);


Oh god. Another legend I truly admire. :(


two weeks in a row...


RIP Dennis. Now that's a guy worth mourning about.

I'll check CNN and the BBC to see their special reports, surely if they had them when some marketing CEO kicked the bucket they'll give at least ten times the amount of coverage to a man who was 100 times his better!


Please stop, this isn't a contest, and I for one don't want to see HN kicked in the junk again over it. dmr wasn't a household name simply because most people lack the background to see the clarity and suitability of his work.

As much as I cringe at seeing "undefined behavior" robustness compromises today, when he started they were absolutely necessary, and he got our profession through one of its most difficult periods. We few know what we owe him.


In the realm of news, almost no one knows who Dennis Ritchie was. You can lament that fact (obviously, to anyone even remotely related to computing he was a figure of paramount importance), but it's ridiculous to expect the mainstream press to understand that importance.

Analogies are tenuous, but when Michael Jackson died, it was obviously big news. It was all over television. Nobody reported when Ross Snyder‡ died, even though his influence was of great importance. That's the way these things work.

‡If anyone didn't know, Ross invented the multitrack recorder, one of the most transformative tools in music production.


> In the realm of news, almost no one knows who Dennis Ritchie was.

I can attest to this. Here at work we work almost exclusively in C (embedded devices) and my boss had no idea who Dennis Ritchie is.


Regard Ross Snyder, I distinctly recall a televised report about it on BBC News.


Yay, that helps reinforce my misguided American belief that the BBC is still a quality news organization!


No one is better than anyone else really. dmr's work has likely touched more lives than most, but like many researchers and programmers, his work is mostly "behind the scenes" and not flashy or glamorous and he probably wanted it that way.

We on HN realize the significance of his work, but most other people won't and that's OK as we all benefit from the things he did whether we realize it or not.


I for one wish the black bar would stop darkening our door. Both men were great in their own ways and made large contributions to our world.


[..] The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That's a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It's the truth." - Steve Jobs


C




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