Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs hosts event to explore the impact of software on society and to honor the life of Dennis Ritchie - the co-inventor of UNIX®

Luminaries from the worlds of academia, science and business to celebrate the life and work of Dennis Ritchie with a full day of personal remembrance and reflection

Sep 05, 2012, 09:15 ET from Alcatel-Lucent

MURRAY HILL, N.J., Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU), is to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Dennis Ritchie - co-inventor of the UNIX operating system and father of the C programming language, with a special event on Friday, September 7, at its headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

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Hosted by Jeong Kim, president of Bell Labs, the event will include remembrances from leading thinkers in information, communications and computing technology, including:

Al Aho, Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University, and original member of the Bell Labs Computer Systems Lab where UNIX and the C programming language were invented. Aho co-authored the AWK programming language.

Brian Kernighan, Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University. Kernighan is an original member of the Computer Systems Lab, and co-authored the C programming language book with Ritchie.

Doug McIlroy, Professor of Computer Science, Dartmouth College. He led the Computer Systems team at Bell Labs, and developed UNIX pipelines and several UNIX tools.

David Patterson, Professor of Computer Science, U.C. Berkeley. Paterson has taught computer architecture since joining the university, and has led the design and implementation of RISC I (Reduced Instruction Set Computer).

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google, Inc., who has helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global leader in technology.  Schmidt co-authored the Lex analysis software program for UNIX.

Also on the agenda is Steve Fortune of Bell Labs Enabling Computing Technologies research, who will present some of the most innovative research under way in the labs.

Members of the Ritchie family will also be among other speakers and guests attending the event.

Dennis Ritchie - who passed away in October 2011 - significantly advanced computer software, hardware and networks along with Dr. Kenneth Thompson, Ph.D., a former Bell Labs colleague and now a distinguished engineer at Google. Their development work more than 40 years ago facilitated the realization of the Internet. Both men received the 2011 Japan Prize in information and communications from the Japan Prize Foundation last year.

Jeong Kim commented: "Dennis meant so much to Bell Labs. He and his long-time research partner Ken Thompson revolutionized computing, and society continues to reap the lasting benefits of their work.  It is a privilege to recognize Dennis' lifetime of accomplishments."

Much of the progress in computer hardware, software, and networks has its roots in the innovative research conducted by Ritchie and Thompson. UNIX, created in 1969, is the operating system of most large Internet servers, businesses and universities, and a major part of academic and industrial research in operating systems.

The C programming language is prized for its efficiency and has since spread to many other operating systems, becoming one of the most widely-used programming languages for both system software and applications. UNIX was also a driving force behind the development of the Internet and a later edition led to the advent of an 'open source' culture.

Ritchie received numerous prestigious awards for his work, including the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) award for the outstanding paper of 1974 in systems and languages; IEEE Piore, Hamming and Pioneer medals, Bell Laboratories Fellow; ACM Turing Award and ACM Software Systems Award (both in 1983); NEC C&C Foundation Award (1989); the U.S. National Medal of Technology (1999); the University of Pennsylvania's Harold Pender Award (2003); and the Japan Prize (2011).  These awards were shared with Ken Thompson.

Ritchie and Thompson were named Bell Labs Fellows in 1982, the first year the Bell Labs Fellowship program was established. Ritchie also was elected to the U. S. National Academy of Engineering in 1988.

As one of the most respected researchers from Bell Labs, Dennis had a long list of accomplishments. In addition to his work on UNIX and the C language, Dennis also contributed to the Plan 9 operating system, generally released in 1995, and also to the Inferno operating system, which was announced in April 1996. His last contribution to the UNIX system was a Stream input-output mechanism for connecting networks, terminals, and processes in a unified way.

Dennis joined the Bell Labs Computer Systems Research department in 1967, and though he retired in 2007 from the Computer Science Research Center, he continued to maintain close ties as a consultant for Bell Labs until his death in 2011. 

The complete program is available online and the event will be webcast live at You can also share memories on Twitter using the hashtag #DennisRitchie.

About Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU)

The long-trusted partner of service providers, enterprises and governments around the world, Alcatel-Lucent is a leading innovator in the field of networking and communications technology, products and services. The company is home to Bell Labs, one of the world's foremost research centers, responsible for breakthroughs that have shaped the networking and communications industry. Alcatel-Lucent was named one of MIT Technology Review's 2012 Top 50 list of the "World's Most Innovative Companies" for breakthroughs such as lightRadio™, which cuts power consumption and operating costs on wireless networks while delivering lightning fast Internet access. Through such innovations, Alcatel-Lucent is making communications more sustainable, more affordable and more accessible as we pursue our mission - Realizing the Potential of a Connected World.

With operations in more than 130 countries and one of the most experienced global services organizations in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with global reach. The Company achieved revenues of Euro 15.3 billion in 2011 and is incorporated in France and headquartered in Paris.

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