, who gave the world the C programming language and was one of the main developers of the UNIX operating system, has passed away.
I had been programming in FORTRAN and various flavors of assembly language for a decade before C burst on the scene in the late 1970's, and it was a revolution. For the first time, here was a programming language that combined the benefits of high level languages (rapid development, portability, etc.) with the granular control of assembly language.
According to industry surveys, C is currently the second most widely used programming language in the world and may, once again, take the number one spot as Java use declines. C is unquestionably the most important computer language ever developed -- nearly every language since then is based on, or incorporates elements of C.
The success of C can be attributed to Ritchie's elegant design, as further refined in collaboration with Brian Kernighan. Their 1978 book "The C Programming Language," as revised a decade later to incorporate the ANSI standardization, remains today one of the best introductions to programming ever written.