The life of Dennis Ritchie

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie was a renowned American computer scientist. He is best known for his work on computer languages and operating systems ALTRAN, B, BCPL, C, Multics, and especially Unix. For a man who did not start out in the computer industry, he has had a profound influence on the entire computer programming world. Here are some Facts about Dennis Richie that will inspire you.

Dennis was born in Bronxville, New York. His father, Alistair E. Ritchie was a scientist at Bell Labs. As a child, his family relocated to Summit, New Jersey where he attended Summit High School. Ritchie was fascinated by Harvard's UNIVAC I computer and spent a lot of his spare time learning more about computer architecture. He specifically developed an interest in how computers were programmed.

Ritchie grew up in New Jersey, and after a childhood in which he did very well academically, he went on to attend Harvard University. There he studied science and graduated with a bachelor's degree in physics. While he was still going to school, Ritchie happened to go to a lecture about how Harvard's computer system, a Univac I, worked. He was fascinated by what he heard and wanted to find out more. Outside of his Harvard studies, Ritchie began to explore computers more thoroughly, and was especially interested in how they were programmed.

He began working at Bell Labs in 1968. Later he went on to receive his PhD under the supervision of Patrick C. Fischer. His doctoral dissertation was titled "Program Structure and Computational Complexity." Ritchie was best known for his work as a key figure in the development of the UNIX operating system. He also co-authored the quintessential book on C, titled "The C Programming Language."

Ritchie received several awards throughout his career. In 1983, he received a Turing award for his work on the UNIX operating system. In 1997, Ritchie, along with his colleague Ken Thompson, were made Fellows of the Computer History Museum. In 1999, Thompson and Ritchie received the National Medal of Technology. And, in 2011, Ritchie received the Japan Prize for Information and Communications for his work on the C language.

Being an accomplished software developer, Dennis Ritchie also authored two notable books. The first was the "Unix Programmer's Manual". It was first published in 1971. The second book he co-authored was "The C Programming Language". It was first published in 1978, and is regarded by many to be the de facto standard on the language.

Ritchie was found dead at his home in October 2011 after a long battle with prostate cancer and heart disease. He lived a very low-key life according to his friends and family. Despite his reserved nature, he was seen as a visionary and a key figure in the history of computing. Ritchie said that he never expected the C programming language to be as significant as it was. One of his colleagues, Brian Kernighan said that Ritchie’s work paved the way for high-profile projects, such as the iPhone.