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Dennis Ritchie, pioneer of C programming language and Unix, reported dead at age 70

Amar Toor, @amartoo

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We're getting reports today that Dennis Ritchie, the man who created the C programming language and spearheaded the development of Unix, has died at the age of 70. The sad news was first reported by Rob Pike, a Google engineer and former colleague of Ritchie's, who confirmed via Google+ that the computer scientist passed away over the weekend, after a long battle with an unspecified illness. Ritchie's illustrious career began in 1967, when he joined Bell Labs just one year before receiving a PhD in physics from Harvard University. It didn't take long, however, for the Bronxville, NY native to have a major impact upon computer science. In 1969, he helped develop the Unix operating system alongside Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan and other Bell colleagues. At around the same time, he began laying the groundwork for what would become the C programming language -- a framework he and co-author Kernighan would later explain in their seminal 1978 book, The C Programming Language. Ritchie went on to earn several awards on the strength of these accomplishments, including the Turing Award in 1983, election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988, and the National Medal of Technology in 1999. The precise circumstances surrounding his death are unclear at the moment, though news of his passing has already elicited an outpouring of tributes and remembrance for the man known to many as dmr (his e-mail address at Bell Labs). "He was a quiet and mostly private man," Pike wrote his brief post, "but he was also my friend, colleague, and collaborator, and the world has lost a truly great mind."

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