My first reaction to the news of Steve Jobs’ death was annoyance; here we go, a never ending stream of praise will hit the media “he changed the way we think about computers” and more nonsense like that. Then came the news of Dennis Ritchie’s death and nobody noticed. Hardly anybody I know even knows who he was, including people in the IT industry. Well, he is the guy who developed the C programming language, every time you touch something with software inside chances are astronomical there’s C code involved, and had great influence on UNIX, OSX is based on this work.
Everybody was still going on about how Steve gave them their pretty shiny laptop (in exchange for, on average, 2000 euros) and how happy it makes them everyday. Fact is: people like pretty shiny things and will more easily look passed their flaws. Our brains are wired to distrust ugly things and Steven Jobs turned that into gold. Now he’s being praised for his “contribution to the computing industry”.
He did make his contribution to the world, no doubt, but the scale is highly exaggerated in my opinion. Mister Ritchie on the other hand deserves much more credit. You, dear reader, are effected by his work right now, regardless of what brand of computer you’re using. That reminds me of a blog post by Linus Torvalds (google his name if you don’t know how he is), more than 90% of all your activity on the Internet touches his work and he was the nobody on the party and Warren Beatty is a star.
Rest in peace mister Dennis Ritchie.