[44], Asteroid 294727 Dennisritchie, discovered by astronomers Tom Glinos and David H. Levy in 2008, was named in his memory. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. [8] He graduated from Harvard University with degrees in physics and applied mathematics. [19] Ritchie's Turing Award lecture was titled "Reflections on Software Research". Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (September 9, 1941 – c. October 12, 2011)[2][3][4][5] was an American computer scientist. A cause of death was not immediately available. The cause and exact time of death have not been disclosed. [7], In 1967, Ritchie began working at the Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center, and in 1968, he defended his PhD thesis on "Program Structure and Computational Complexity" at Harvard under the supervision of Patrick C. Fischer. Nowadays, the C language is widely used in application, operating system, and embedded system development, and its influence is seen in most modern programming languages. Ritchie liked to emphasize that he was just one member of a group. The company confirmed his death to The Associated Press but would not disclose the cause of death or when Ritchie died. [32] [26], Ritchie was found dead on October 12, 2011, at the age of 70 at his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, where he lived alone. See our, Read a limited number of articles each month, You consent to the use of cookies and tracking by us and third parties to provide you with personalized ads, Unlimited access to washingtonpost.com on any device, Unlimited access to all Washington Post apps, No on-site advertising or third-party ad tracking. First news of his death came from his former colleague, Rob Pike. Please accept Echovita’s sincere condolences. See our Privacy Policy and Third Party Partners to learn more about the use of data and your rights. A … Ritchie was under the radar. Please enable cookies on your web browser in order to continue. "[22], On April 21, 1999, Thompson and Ritchie jointly received the National Medal of Technology of 1998 from President Bill Clinton for co-inventing the UNIX operating system and the C programming language which, according to the citation for the medal, "led to enormous advances in computer hardware, software, and networking systems and stimulated growth of an entire industry, thereby enhancing American leadership in the Information Age". In an interview from 1999, Ritchie clarified that he saw Linux and BSD operating systems as a continuation of the basis of the Unix operating system, and as derivatives of Unix:[18]. He was Scientists (Computer Scientist) by profession. We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and deliver personalized advertising on our sites, apps and newsletters and across the Internet based on your interests. [2][3][28][29] News of Ritchie's death was largely overshadowed by the media coverage of the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, which occurred the week before. Ritchie was also involved with the development of the Plan 9 and Inferno operating systems, and the programming language Limbo. [34][35] Other testimonials to his influence followed. Ritchie joined Bell Labs in the late 1960s. Kernighan told The New York Times "The tools that Dennis built—and their direct descendants—run pretty much everything today.”[33] Kernighan reminded readers of how important a role C and Unix had played in the development of later high-profile projects, such as the iPhone. Ritchie worked together with Ken Thompson, who is credited with writing the original version of Unix; one of Ritchie's most important contributions to Unix was its porting to different machines and platforms. Dennis Ritchie Obituary. [45] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 7 February 2012 (M.P.C. We rely on readers like you to uphold a free press. He was a student at Summit High School. This content is currently not available in your region. Ritchie joined Bell Labs in the late 1960s. His father was Alistair E. Ritchie, a longtime Bell Labs scientist and co-author of The Design of Switching Circuits[6] on switching circuit theory. [30], Following Ritchie's death, computer historian Paul E. Ceruzzi stated:[31]. As part of an AT&T restructuring in the mid-1990s, Ritchie was transferred to Lucent Technologies, where he retired in 2007 as head of System Software Research Department. At the same Usenix 1984 conference, Dennis Ritchie is visible in the middle, wearing a striped shirt, behind Steven Bellovin wearing a baseball hat. Ritchie engaged in conversation in a chalet in the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City at the 1984 Usenix conference. [14] Ritchie relates that, after discussions with the NSA, the authors decided not to publish it, as they were told that the principle was applicable to machines still in use by foreign governments.[14]. By clicking “I agree” below, you consent to the use by us and our third-party partners of cookies and data gathered from your use of our platforms. [13], During the 1970s, Ritchie collaborated with James Reeds and Robert Morris on a ciphertext-only attack on the M-209 US cipher machine that could solve messages of at least 2000–2500 letters. His name was not a household name at all, but... if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you'd see his work everywhere inside. 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