The tech world was in mourning today after it was revealed that Dennis Ritchie, the creator of the C Programming language, had passed away. Ritchie was a giant in the world of computer science, having also worked on operating system Unix, and tributes flowed in. Among those first to pay their respects was Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Thank you for your immense contributions, RIP Dennis Ritchie https://t.co/LVacgkcXvl
— sundarpichai (@sundarpichai) October 13, 2016
His tweet, as of last count, has been retweeted over five hundred times. Among those who paid their respects were Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, who said “this guy made a huge contribution to the world.” Certain news outlets also published tributes.
He was also remembered by hundreds of average people.
Dear mister Ritchie…. your book has changed my life forever. https://t.co/ybgHvbFGZh
— raghuram (@raghuram) October 13, 2016
— Shunsuke Tadokoro (@todokr) October 13, 2016
And people even got creative with their tributes.
printf("RIP: %sn", "Dennis Ritchie");
— Joe Johnston (@taskboy3000) October 13, 2016
The wishes are touching, and very well deserved. But there’s only one problem.
Dennis Ritchie has been dead for five years.
Ritchie had passed away on 12th October, 2011. Why his death has had a second coming is down to a simple misunderstanding. Om Malik, the founder of GigaOm and a biggie in the tech space, had chanced upon a Wired article from five years ago that announced Ritchie’s death. He tweeted it, and his tweet was picked up by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who retweeted it. From there on, it was bedlam. It was repeatedly retweeted, and one thing led to another. Twitter added to the confusion by picking up on old NYT article and showing it as a top news story.
While all this is an unfortunate misunderstanding (Pichai’s tweet is still up on his profile), maybe it’s for the best. Ritchie might’ve been dead for a while, but surely a man of his stature deserves some tributes twice over.