Unix co-creator and father of C, Dennis Ritchie dies age 70

US computer scientist Dennis Ritchie - one of the co-inventors of the Unix operating system and the C programming language - has died at 70 after a long illness.

Warwick Ashford Warwick Ashford

Warwick Ashford is chief reporter at Computer Weekly. He joined the CW team in June 2007 and is focused on IT security, business continuity, IT law and issues relating to regulation, compliance and governance. Before joining CW, he spent four years working in various roles including technology editor for ITWeb, an IT news publisher based in Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition to news and feature writing for ITWeb’s print publications, he was involved in liaising with sponsors of specialist news areas on the ITWeb site and developing new sponsorship opportunities. He came to IT journalism after three years as a course developer and technical writer for an IT training organisation and eight years working in radio news as a writer and presenter at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

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US computer scientist Dennis Ritchie - one of the co-inventors of the Unix operating system and the C programming language - has died at 70 after a long illness.

Ritchie worked with Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy and Joe Ossanna during the 1960s and 70s to create the Unix operating system, which established many key software engineering principles.

Steve Jobs used Unix as the basis for his NeXT computer workstation, and later introduced it to Apple where it became the foundation for the company's current products.

Unix is also at the heart of today's open-source software movement, mainly due to the development of a free version called Linux by Finnish computer scientist Linus Torvalds in the 1980s.

It was also at Bell, that Ritchie created C, one of the most widely used programming languages in the world that influenced many other popular programming languages such as C++ and Java.

Jeong Kim, president of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, said Ritchie would be greatly missed.

"He was truly an inspiration to all of us, not just for his many accomplishments, but because of who he was as a friend, an inventor, and a humble and gracious man," said Kim in a statement.

Ritchie's influence and accomplishments won official recognition in 1999 when he was awarded the US National Medal of Technology.

Thousands of tributes to Ritchie have become a trending topic on Twitter within hours of the news breaking.

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