The most important man in tech died last week and it wasn’t Steve Jobs

Dennis Ritchie

I crazy the world we live in these days and how we idolize certain individuals and ignore others. I can’t sit here and say that Steve jobs didn’t contribute to the tech world. He had an amazing mind and created some very thoughtful while overpriced products.

Unfortunately an even more important man with an even greater mind and contribution died last weekend. We didn’t see any iPad shrines, no tweets, and barley any mention in tech world and hardly a mention in mainstream media. As a matter of fact all of Steve’s gadgets ran on an operating system that was basically invented by this man. Who is this great man you ask…Dennis Ritchie, he was head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. He was the creator of the operating systems Multics and more notably Unix. His most prized accomplishment was creating the C programming language at Bell Labs with Ken Thompson. C is arguably the second most used programming language in the world. The operating system you use on your Mac was derived from UNIX as we as all Linux distributions. The entire internet, all of your apps, mobile OS’s, search engines etc. are all thanks to Dennis Ritchie. He didn’t use cheap labor from China and no employees killed themselves while he orchestrated this profound feat almost single handedly. So please give credit where credit is due, without Dennis Ritchie there is no Steve Jobs, no Bill Gates, no Larry Paige, no Mark Zuckerberg, nothing.

Dennis Ritchie didn’t drop out of college either. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics and applied mathematics and later on received his Ph.D. He also co-authored The C Programming Language. During his lifetime he received the National Medal of Technology from Bill Clinton (the United States highest award for technology), the Japan Prize for Information and Communication, Turing Award, and the Richard W. Hamming Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The wealth his contributions have generated for individuals is unimaginable.

Bell Labs

Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson working at Bell Labs

Rest in Peace September 9, 1941 – October 12, 2011
UPDATE 3/5/2012

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