[nycbug-talk] Dennis Ritchie has passed

Isaac Levy ike at blackskyresearch.net
Thu Oct 13 01:39:07 EDT 2011

On Oct 12, 2011, at 11:23 PM, Steven Kreuzer wrote:

>> From Rob Pike: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101960720994009339267/posts/ENuEDDYfvKP?hl=en
> "C is quirky, flawed, and an enormous success."
> - Dennis Ritchie, on The Development of the C Language


My sincerest condolences to all who were friends and colleagues of DMR.

However, with Dennis Ritchie's life of sharing, time sharing, C, etc..., (/etc even?),  I really can't help but feel grief over a fundamental loss- even though I never personally knew him.

You get to know someone's brain, their sensibilities at the very least- by working within their code or systems.  I feel silly feeling torn up over somebody I never knew personally, but after hacking on UNIX systems for some time now, it almost feels like a colleague has passed- I've engaged more of his ideas even than people I've collaborated with closely- a somewhat frightening thought.  Obviously Dennis Ritchie left such a legacy behind- perhaps by accident- but in the end obviously in the spirit of sharing the fun he seemed to be having.

I believe, after hacking on many UNIX systems for years, perhaps even after reading Dennis Ritchie's playfully self-incriminating foreword to the UNIX Haters Handbook, and interacting with various Plan9 outcomes which have worked their way into mainstream UNIX systems:
I think it's all pretty clear Dennis Ritchie was not only a great engineer- but perhaps even a great social thinker of our time.  Processes, sharing time- users sharing systems.
It's a fundamental legacy I know we'll all be interacting with long after the current systems we're touching are gone.

He openly stood on the shoulders of giants, and we understatedly all stand on his- even if most people don't know who he is.  Not sure he seemed to care for that, he seemed to prefer hacking...


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