Cake or the icing – who is important?

This October was really a sad month for all the tech freaks. Reason Steve Jobs passed away. Really he was a great man and his contribution to how modern technology has evolved can never be compared to anybody else. But somebody else also passed away that month and perhaps hardly many of even know his name. That man is Dennis Ritchie – the main developer of the C programming language.

Hardly any of us cared to even pay attention to that man. Agreed Steve was the leading the world, giving new directions to technology, shaping its evolution. But without Ritchie maybe technology in its present form would have never even existed.

Strangely the media forgot the existence of a man, more important than Steve (according to me), and hardly did I see any news report nor any TV show addressing this. It was just sad to see a man worthy of worship getting neglected like that.

Just think about it deeply – Steve Jobs gave us Mac, iPod, iPhone, etc. But Dennis Ritchie gave us C. The sole language that has been powering the computer revolution since then. Without C there would not have been any modern operating systems like Linux or Windows – leave alone Mac. No embedded devices or specialised robotics systems. Not even your favourite web browser – Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. None of your games like Counter Strike or Call of Duty. I hope we wouldn’t like to imagine our lives without these.

What do I conclude from this? People just pay attention to stuff that they directly get to use. The people that they get to see directly speaking to them, not the guys who maybe have done much more work but maybe just known in a specialised group of people. But that doesn’t mean I totally disregard Steve – he is absolutely wonderful at what he does and he understands what consumers want, how they want. But Dennis Ritchie deserves some more attention.

Even the media is to blame here – how could they leave out this event when they highlight the death of Steve Jobs at such a massive scale. Maybe its just because he was the CEO of “Apple” but Dennis Ritchie was no CEO. Its upto us to choose who is more important – the cake or the icing!


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