A Tribute to Titans

 

The world was shocked and grieved to hear the news of the passing away of Steve Jobs on October the 5th. Jobs was one of the great visionaries of modern society and a creative genius who sought to fuse technology with zen like simplicity; he touched the hearts and lives of millions.

Steve Jobs

 

From the very first $30 computer motherboards built in the garage of Steve Wozniac, one of the founding members of Apple, to the $2000 Apple machines sold now, Jobs fought against the many hardships along his path and won with perseverance and determination. He was fired from his own company in 1985. Steve then formed Next, producing a little known computer, the NextCube running on the NextStep operating system, later on he also became an integral part of Pixar, an animation company, best known for producing Toy Story. Apple started to flounder and decay under new management, and soon enough it acquired Next, to provide it with some new software to breath some life into it. Jobs was once again at the helm of the company he was fired from a decade ago. From there on came introduction of the iMac, mac OS, iPod, iPhone and iPad; Jobs forged his way into success. The rest is, as they say history.

 

I would like to use this opportunity in remembrance of another visionary, one who gave the world the foundation for the modern technology our world thrives upon.

 

During the dark ages of computing (the early 60’s), when computers where the size of buildings, there was no single standard computer operating system. Every computer ran its own software, built uniquely for the hardware, with no way to communicate between one another. It was then that Dr. Dennis Ritchie along with his fellow colleagues created the Unix operating system.

 

Dr. Dennis Ritchie

This single event led to the creation of a variety of products, such as the Linux operating system, which is still flourishing and being extended to projects such Google’s Android, and HP’s WebOS as well as in more arcane projects like ice cream vending machines and particle accelerators. Parts of the Apple Mac system (and Steve Jobs NextStep system) are direct ports from Unix due the robustness and usefulness of the code.

 

Ritchie’s other project was the development of the C programming language. Pretty much all of the current networking software was created to run on C programs or a language derived from it such as C++, python or Java. The vast majority of the internet, the backend that most end users never see, such as web servers, firewalls and routers all run some form of Unix or C code.

 

Dr. Dennis Ritchie passed away earlier this month at the age of 70. Details are a little sketchy as he has been living very privately for the last few years of his life, but the news was initially bought to light by former colleague, Rob Pike and later confirmed from a variety of sources. My deepest condolences go out to friends and families of Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie, two visionaries, who have each in their own way changed the world in what can only be described as ‘one giant leap for technology, and an ever bigger leap for mankind’.

 

 By Husman Ahmed, Justsayplease

 

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