Life is a Mystery

13 October 2011

Goodbye, World

As the luminaries of the computer world leave us, we will recognize more and more of those who live on in our machines. Dennis Ritchie created the C programming language. This was work first done with his partner Brian Kernighan from 1969 to 1973. Along with Ken Thompson and a number of others, Dennis also gets credit for creating Unix at Bell Labs during this same period. C and Unix lie at the heart of almost every electronic device you carry today. Whether it’s your iPhone with Apple’s iOS flavor of Unix or your Android phone based on a flavor of Linux. Most software on your computer or phone or pad is written in a derivative of C still today. Ritchie died this past weekend.

I learned to write code for my first Mac with the book he and Kernighan wrote: “The C Programming Language” often called K&R C. I still refer to it when writing iPad apps, the first edition, no less. It is still relevant. The first example code in the book is a charming model that virtually every programming language since has used since, the “hello, world” program. Here is my variation for Dennis today:

main()
{
    printf("goodbye, world\n");
}

Thank you, Dennis, for all you gave us.

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Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 / efc@clst.org