Before someone else is “absolutely stunned” by my silence, let me hereby note with great sadness that Dennis Ritchie, principal designer of C, co-designer of Unix, Turing Award winner, and one of the world’s legendary computer scientists, has passed away at 70. (See here for the NYT obituary, here for a more detailed ZDNet obituary, and here for Lance Fortnow’s encomium.) I didn’t know Ritchie, but my father did, as a science and technology writer in the 70s and 80s. And I often saw Ritchie in the halls when I spent several summers working at Bell Labs in college. Mostly, though, I know Ritchie through the beautiful language he created. It’s a testament to C’s elegance and simplicity that I, though extremely far from a hacker, find it almost as easy to express my thoughts in C as I do in my mother tongue, MS-DOS QBASIC.
Update (Oct. 26): AI pioneer and LISP inventor John McCarthy has passed away as well. It’s been a tough month for computing revolutionaries.