Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Apologies, Mr. Ritchie (warning: rant!)

Last night, ABC news ran a piece, naming those famous people who died in 2011.  Naturally, they devoted a large chunk of time to Steve Jobs, of Apple fame.

But not one word did they say about Dennis Ritchie.  We sent an e-mail to ABC, saying "SHAME ON YOU!"

Why?

Mr. Jobs was a businessman, someone who took technological ideas and sold them.
Mr. Ritchie was the man who invented the C language.  This computer language not only predated all modern computer programming languages - it was the basis for many of them.  THEN - after inventing C - Mr. Ritchie co-created the UNIX operating system, and was a big factor in porting it to many different computer systems.  Wikipedia states "Among all variants of Unix, Mac OS X is the most widely used".  We question that; we believe there are more Linux users than Mac users.  That's right - The Mac's operating system is derived from UNIX!
On top of all that, Dennis Ritchie also received -
  • The Turing Award in 1983
  • The IEEE Richard W. Hamming medal
  • National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1999
  • the Japan Prize in 2011
Computer historian Paul E. Ceruzzi said after his death: "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."
Ritchie died a week after Jobs, but though he actually was much more of a pioneer and innovator then Jobs ever was, the media pretty much ignored Ritchie.  Shame on you all!
Our apologies, Mr. Ritchie, for a belated observance of all the things you accomplished that really moved computing forward, out of the laboratory, and into mainstream use.  Our apologies for the idiots in the media who were blinded by the glitz from somebody who rode your coattails to [undeserved] glory.
End of rant.

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