Innovation for profit or the common good

Innovation for profit or the common good: Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie

This time it was ‘Goodbye’ World!

by Raghavendra S writing in the progressive Indian website Pragoti

An obituary on Dennis Ritchie, inventor of the C Programming language.

While Steve Jobs’ death was celebrated by popular media, reports on Ritchie’s death and contributions were few and far between, *writes RAGHAVENDRA S *

In a week’s span, the technological world lost two icons; Each an icon in his own way. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple died on 5 October, and Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of Unix Operating system and the inventor C died on 12 October, 2011.

Steve Jobs has been injudiciously celebrated as the greatest inventor of the modern world, and has been celebrated and anointed by the media as the uncontested Newton/Einstein/Edison – all rolled into one – of the 21st century! The corporate mass media obviously sang peans to the icon. Apple, with its aggressive marketing and eyes on creating easy monopolies, fit right into the capitalist system, for them. That ideas and technologies, that are meant to be free, were locked in by this icon – no ipuns intended here – were consistently locked in by this iconic company is something that the media not only failed to criticise, but instead celebrated.

The same volumes of newsreel, however, were not earmarked for the other great. Confined to tech websites and a few publications, eulogies to Ritchie were not too common.

Dennis Ritchie’s contribution to all the technological advancements in the world of modern computing is immense. Most of the digital computation, sophisticated programming and the Internet are deeply entrenched in two inventions that he was deeply involved in: The Unix Operating System and the C Programming Language.

Dennis Ritchie created the Unix Operating System along with Ken Thompson in 1969. The advent of Unix instigated more variants like the GNU Project and BSD in the 1980′s, and Linux project in the 1990′s which directly led to the seamless growth of the Internet. All of the modern operating systems have a deep impression of the initial work done by Dennis Ritchie and his team on the Unix Operating System.

Another contribution, which has grown to become even more important is the C Programming Language. C language is the basis for almost all the modern programming languages.

Dennis Ritchie was a true genius and a great inventor, who has had direct and a profound impact on the way the world has shaped up influenced by is work. While Ritchie did not run a multi-billion dollar company, his work enabled a whole gamut of such monopolies to grow from. Apple is a direct beneficiary of the BSD Unix which now runs as the Darwin OS in the Apple products. Of all the contributions to Apple by Steve Jobs, bringing BSD Unix to Apple will stand out as the most important one in their perspective.

Both Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie were technologists who made tremendous impact; but, the nature of impact is worth discerning. Steve Jobs with all his proprietary flag hoisting and closed product market expansion will be remembered as the mascot of corporate monopolies, driven to maximize profit and conquer as many ideas as possible into his enterprise’s Intellectual Property regime.

On the other hand, Dennis Ritchie contributed his skills to the development of the mankind in an almost selfless spirit, allowing his work to percolate to all strata, making it as basic and fundamental as mathematics. It might not be an exaggeration to say that this distinction is what has ironically made the corporate mass media treat Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie differently.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rasigan Maharajh

Date: 22 December 2011 09:52
Subject: Innovation for profit or the common good
To: Nhlanhla Mabaso, Erika Kraemer, Bob Jolliffe, Erika Vegter, diaan myburg, Marek Dziembowski, Irma Wilson

rasigan maharajh, phd.

chief director

institute for economic research on innovation

faculty of economics and finance

tshwane university of technology