Man behind Our Technology



Most people say “huh” when they hear his name except for a few geeks. His contribution to the UNIX operating system and C programming language is the major accomplishment that they got for the world of Linux.

Dennis Ritchie is one of the leading computer scientist born in Bronxville, New York at 9th September 1941. He studied physics at the College and as a graduate student he studied applied math. Ritchie got his both graduate and undergraduate degrees from Harvard University.

He developed the C language that most commonly used programming language in the world while he was working at Bell Laboratories in 1969. By using C language nowadays most of software engineers are writing software for mobile phones, computers, embedded devices and smart appliances from operating system to applications to device drivers too.

From C language there are number of variations and new languages came up like C+, C++. Also there are direct and indirect affects on the syntax and structure of other modern programming languages like Python, Java, PHP and etc.

Also he was one of the major creators of the UNIX operating system along with another Bell Lab computer genius Ken Thompson. UNIX has also given growth to a many generations like MINIX, LINUX, BSD and Mac Os X operating system. All modern operating systems are owe something to UNIX.

He received Turing Award in 1983, National Medal of Technology 1998, Hamming Medal form IEEE in 1990, Computer Pioneer Award in 1994 and many more. Also he is a co-author of the book “The C Programming Language”.

Dennis Ritchie passed away at his age of 70 on 8th October 2011. He died the same month just over a week later than Steve Jobs dies, but it seems only few notice the death of Dennis Ritchie compared to Steve Jobs. Ritchie was a technology man, but Jobs was a great businessman and marketer. When media and everyone seems to be sad about Jobs death only few noticed about Ritchie’s death.

But Ritchie’s work touched our lives far more than anything Jobs ever did.  Without Dennis Richie, we would have no windows, no UNIX, no C, no programs, a large setback in computing, no generic text languages and we would all read in Binary. So I think he had given lots of valuable things to our technology. We owe him more than we realized.


Article By Mishari Tamara Varney



  • Bernstein, Jeremy. (2008) Physicists On Wall Street And Other Essays On Science And Society. New York: Springer.
  • Anasu, Laya. (2013) The Harvard Crimson. ‘Dennis Ritchie ’63, The Man Behind Your Technology’ [online] Available from:[ Accessed: 26 Oct. 2015]
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