C programming language inventor Dennis Ritchie is reported to have died.
Rob Pike, a Google engineer and former colleague of Ritchie, said on Google+ that the 70-year-old, who was a founding developer of Unix and known as dmr, died at home over the weekend after a long illness.
At the time of writing, Ritchie's web page on the site of Bell Labs where he worked, along with other pages relating to Ritchie's work at Bell, was unavailable.
Born in September 1941 in Bronxville, New York, Ritchie graduated from Harvard with a BS in mathematics and a PhD in physics before joining Bell Labs in 1968. He was a member of the team working on building a general computer operating system.
With Bell's Ken Thompson, Ritchie helped develop Unix and got it running on a DEC PDP-11, and released the first edition of the operating system in 1971.
Two years later Ritchie came up with the C language, building on B from engineers at Bell. C offered the right combination of concise syntax, functionality and detail features necessary to make the language work for programming an operating system. Most of Unix's components were re-written in C, with the kernel published the same year.
C is now the world's second most popular programming language, according to TIOBE. It paved the way for C++ and Java, while Unix paved the way for many, many operating systems, including BSD and Linux.
Ritchie went on to be appointed head of the System Software Research Department at Bell Labs' Computer Sciences Research Center, and received a Turing Award in 1983 and the US National Medal of Technology in 1998 along with Thompson for his work on C and Unix. ®