Most people don't know that Dennis Ritchie died on Oct. 12, 7 days after Steve Jobs.
Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie developed the UNIX operating system at Bell Laboratories in 1970.

There are some interesting parallels.

  • Both received the National Medal of Science
  • Not only did Jobs adopt UNIX for his NeXT computer, but the current Mac OS X runs on a UNIX variant.
  • Both had concepts of simplicity.
    - When Jobs was asked why the Macintosh mouse only had 1 button while the Xerox PARC Alto system had 3, Jobs said you don't have to worry about pushing the wrong button.
    - Ritchie designed the system calls to to I/O (Input/Output) to be very simple to use as well as efficient.
  • Typesetting (nroff/troff and Mac fonts) were important in early versions of both systems.

If you count the number of UNIX variants running on computers vs Mac OS's, UNIX is the hands down winner, but most people have never heard of Dennis Ritchie, or for that matter, Douglas Engelbart, who invented the mouse.

I had the privilege of using early versions of both UNIX (1974) Macintosh (1984) in my jobs at Bell Laboratories and Bellcore.

See Without Dennis Ritchie, there would be no Steve Jobs | ZDNet
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last updated 2 Nov 2010