In a week’s span, the technological world and hence the society as a whole has lost two icons; Each an icon in his own way. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple died on the 5th of October, and Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of Unix Operating system and the inventor C died on the 12th of October, 2011.

Dennis Ritchie 1941-2011

Steve Jobs has been injudiciously celebrated as the greatest inventor of the modern world, and has been posthumously praised to have been the Newton/Einstein/Edison of the 21st century! The corporate mass media has not spared any gimmickry to flatter him.

On the other hand, the news of the demise of Dennis Ritchie, started circulating online and his admirers globe across, and not the afore mentioned media who were eulogizing him.

Dennis Ritchie’s contribution to all the technological advancements in the modern computing as we know of today is immense. Most of the digital computation, sophisticated programming and the Internet are deeply drenched with two of the greatest inventions which Dennis Ritchie was directly involved in: The Unix Operating System and the C Programming Language.

Dennis Ritchie created the Unix Operating System along with Ken Thompson in 1969. The advent of Unix instigated more variants like the GNU Project and BSD in the 1980’s, and Linux project in the 1990’s which directly led to the seamless growth of the Internet. All of the modern operating systems have a deep impression of the initial work done by Dennis Ritchie and his team on the Unix Operating System.

Another contribution, which has grown to become even more important is the C Programming Language. C language undeniably is the basis for almost all the modern programming languages.

Dennis Ritchie was a true genius and a great inventor; He has had direct and a profound impact on the way the world has shaped up, under the direct influence of his work. While Ritchie did not run a multi-billion dollar company, his work enabled a whole gamut of such monopolies to grow from. Apple is a direct beneficiary of the BSD Unix which now runs as the Darwin OS in the Apple products. Of all the contributions to Apple by Steve Jobs, bringing BSD Unix to Apple will stand out as the most important one in their perspective.

Both Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie were technologists who made tremendous impact; but, the nature of impact is worth discerning.

Steve Jobs with all his proprietary flag hoisting and closed product market expansion will be remembered as the mascot of corporate monopolies, driven to maximize profit and conquer as many ideas as possible into his enterprise’s Intellectual Property regime.

On the other hand, Dennis Ritchie contributed his skills to the development of the mankind in an almost selfless spirit, allowing his work to percolate to all strata, making it as basic and fundamental as mathematics.

Dennis Ritchie who has now silently faded into eternity, will forever be remembered by generations of programmers and scientists to come, simply because whatever further we will see, will be by standing on the shoulders of giants – Dennis Ritchie is certainly one such contemporary giant.

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