Thursday, October 13, 2011

Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie

Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie both died within a few days of each other.

In my mind, there are four most important people in the story of computer software. The story begins with Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, who figured out how to write an operating system (Unix). With this, we got the first powerful beasts.

The third person in the story is Bill Joy, who got the beasts to talk to each other (BSD). This gave us the Internet.

The fourth person in the story is Steve Jobs, who gave the networked beasts a pretty face, who got mere mortals to command the beasts.

Today, the wonders of the world of computing are: iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle, Macbook Air. Every single one these is derived from the work of these four people. Wow.

(iPad, iPhone, Macbook Air run variants of Mac OS X, which is derived from NextOS which is a child of BSD. Android is derived from Linux, which is a ground-up rewrite of BSD. Some kindles run Linux, the others a forked Android).

1 comment:

  1. Bill Gates, if not for him we would still be doing SU and sudo and get -apt for computing with Unix/Linux. It doesn't hurt much to give credit to a man who made PC's available to the individual and put a desktop in every household.

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