Thursday, October 13, 2011

RIP Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie, creator of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix operating system, has died aged 70.

I took my first C class in 1990. Prior to that I had done a lot of programming in Basic and Pascal, but really enjoyed programming in FORTRAN. Since that class I have done a lot of C programming, but still pretty much think of myself as a FORTRAN programmer.

Learning C wasn't difficult. But most of my programming experience was with fairly structured languages and C just seemed to offer me lots of different ways to really screw up everything I was doing. During one fairly stressful week in class I asked the professor "Has Dennis Ritchie ever publicly admitted that this whole language was a joke and we weren't supposed to actually use it for anything?"

My question seemed to nail my prof's funny bone. He started chuckling every time he looked at me for a week. He confided to me later that he fully understood my feelings, early in his C programming days he felt much the same way.

It didn't take me long to really warm up to C, even though it never managed to replace FORTRAN as my favorite language. But I guess I can finally stop waiting for an announcement from Dennis Ritchie.

RIP Mr. Ritchie, your work revolutionized the computer industry.