Talk:Dennis Ritchie

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A word about honor[edit]

This man, as those who ever studied computer science or operating systems knows, deserves our highest praise and honor, and certainly a longer and more detailed page about his ideas and contributions, not merely references. He was the genius who did not get enough praise. Let's not make another Tesla. Is anyone, out there, up for the job? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:59, 19 June 2015 (UTC)

C++ Bjarne Stroustrup interview hoax?[edit]

I have a strange feeling that Ritchie was the author of that hoax! Anybody agree?
You should provide a reference so we know what you're talking about. Hoaxes don't sound like DMR's style. DAGwyn 18:17, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I have a rather good idea of who was the main author of the hoax, it might be that DMR contributed something to it, and probably found it quite amusing, but it doesn't seem to be his style. --Lost Goblin 21:49, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Dennis Ritchie has died[edit]

Can anyone confirm? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:07, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

According to NY Times its confirmed.
At the moment it's just rumours. I've been looking for confirmation. --awh (Talk) 00:27, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
I doubt Rob Pike would lie, but can we find a more authoratiative source? (talk) 02:01, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
This story from Chile [1] quotes Pike on Google Plus, so it's not independently authoritative. Edward Vielmetti (talk) 03:17, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Until a reliable third-party medium as per WP:IRS confirms his death, all edits reproducing this unconfirmed rumour should be reverted, IMO. McDutchie (talk) 03:20, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
A search doesn't return much -- mostly blog-like sites. I'm surprised that the mainstream media isn't covering this already. utcursch | talk 06:05, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Jon "maddog" Hall Jon_Hall_(programmer) has also reported it,!/maddoghall/status/124300817942581248 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:21, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I have some independent confirmation that Dennis died over the weekend. Still, however, not much in the press. Peter F. Patel-Schneider, Bell Labs Research — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:12, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Contradiction on his birth[edit]

The first paragraph states he was born on September 8, but the side box states he was born September 9. Which is it? (talk) 14:20, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

He born on September 9, read his bio: (also at but is currently down). -- (talk) 14:46, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Context of quote[edit]

Does anyone know the context of the quote "We really didn't buy it thinking we'd have this enormous investment." ? Without knowing what he bought, it's a bit hard to know why it's considered notable and the citation doesn't offer any additional clues (talk) 14:24, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I removed it, since as you say it makes no sense on its own, and I can find nothing on the webz other than the inevitable loops back to this article.--NapoliRoma (talk) 15:53, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Different death dates[edit]

If I see it correctly the Page says, he died October 8. The Box on the right says, he died October 13. -- (talk) 15:43, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

NYTimes article "Dennis Ritchie, Trailblazer in Digital Era, Dies at 70" stated Ritchie "was found dead on Wednesday at his home in Berkeley Heights, N.J. He was 70." Should the date be Wed Oct 12th then? – Kempton "Ideas are the currency of the future." - a quote by Kevin Roberts 05:22, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
It should and now it does. I added the NYTimes cite but didn't catch the discrepancy with earlier reports. Thanks. Msnicki (talk) 06:16, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Are the October 8 quotes from the BBC and The Guardian inaccurate? NYT states he was found dead on October 12, which I suppose does not necessarily mean he had died on that day. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:23, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Setting aside that The Guardian simply isn't the NY Times, especially in reporting events in the US, the Guardian doesn't cite a source, the NY Times does; The NY Times cites Ritchie's brother. It's possible the Guardian is reporting just whatever they found here on Wikipedia. The NY Times could be wrong or misleading, too, but for the moment, they're the most reliable source. From WP:V, "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." Msnicki (talk) 08:46, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
True, considering that it might be best not to state a specific date at all for the time being (NYT does not explicitly state the brother as source for the day of his death). Here in the discussion pages (well, not a good source at all of course), Peter Patel-Schneider is quoted mentioning 'the weekend' as time of death. That he has died in October seems to be quite certain. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:12, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
NYTimes says he was "found dead on Wednesday" (October 12), but of course he could have been dead for days before he was found. Wired says he "passed away on October 8". Rob Pike's October 12 posting on Google+ says he died at home "this weekend" (consistent with October 8). The Guardian says "died 12 October 2011". PC Magazine says "died Wednesday" (October 12). There's definitely a conflict between sources which poses a verifiability problem. It seems likely that he died sometime between October 8 and October 12, and that the actual date of death is not yet certain, with some sources misinterpreting "found dead on Wednesday" as "died on Wednesday". It might be necessary for someone to get the official date from the death certificate when it is issued? (Should a tag be added to indicate that October 8 is a disputed date?) Deven (talk) 19:55, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

It was changed to Oct 8 by "Dennycolt99", who no longer exists. I have changed it back to Oct 12. I don't think five references are needed, but I've left them in.

I agree with leaving it as Oct 12 for now. We know for sure he was found dead on that day. Earlier dates, including Rob Pike's remark about "this weekend" appear to be speculation that he'd already been dead for a while. But Ritchie couldn't have been pronounced dead until after he was found dead and if there's an earlier reliable date, that would have to come from a medical examiner's autopsy, not lay speculation. Given this was natural causes, it seems unlikely they would do that. Msnicki (talk) 22:04, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
It may be that the date of Dennis's death will never be known for sure, at least publicly. I don't know what that should mean in terms of this article, though. Peter F. Patel-Schneider (talk) 23:25, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
One thing that's nice about Wikipedia is that you can go back to see if a rumor may have started here. Notice that the very first edit indicating Ritchie's death inserted a date of Oct 9. This was obvious speculation (and completely impermissible original research) because both the commment, "Dennis Ritchie, RIP (information sourced via Rob Pike" and the citation make it clear this edit was based solely on Pikes's post, which didn't give an exact date. (And never mind the problem of inserting this kind of information into a WP:BLP based on a blog post.) A few edits inserted Oct 12 but it went back and forth for a while.
The Oct 8 date first appeared based on the boingboing article, but that article doesn't give a date, either, so again, this was another editor's WP:OR. But once we let stuff like this get in here, even the press starts to believe it and report it as fact. We said it was, aren't we reliable? Well, usually. Msnicki (talk) 18:11, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Only one source is provided for 12 october. This source does not provide evidence for that date. Since we are neutral and assume good faith, both days are correct. Because he has only died once, we cannot publish 2 dates. This means we cannot use a date at all. --Tjibbe I (talk) 15:06, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Nonsense. There's no question he was found on Oct 12. No one doubts the NYTimes on this point. And both the quote in the citation and the discussion on the section on his death make clear that's when he was found dead and that an exact time have not been disclosed. That's the date and (except for you) I think there's consensus. Msnicki (talk) 15:56, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I am not questioning that he was found death on 12 october, I am questioning that he died on 12 October. The NYTimes does not say he died on that day, so there is no reason to doubt the NYTimes article. The BBC did not say he died on 12 October, neither did Rob Pike. The only reference that I doubt is the reference to the Guardian. There are a lot of websites that are just as trustworthy as the Guardian, that claim Mr. Ritchie died on 8 or 9 October. In fact, the only part that can be verified is that he died somewhere between 8 October and 12 October. I hope that we can agree that as long as 12 October is not verifiable more true than 8 October, we should either use both days or none of these days. Unless someone can explain why we the Guardian is more reliable than Rob Pike, Wired and NOS together, the date must be removed from the article. --Tjibbe I (talk) 19:13, 16 October 2011 (UTC) One word deleted 19:20, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
It seems very likely the Oct 8 date was spuriously generated by us, as someone's WP:OR, as I explained above. What we say here gets picked up very quickly by the press as fact. What we know is when he has found dead. Anything else is still conjecture (even from Rob Pike) until it's been confirmed. Notice how the BBC talks about confirming the information in Pike's blog post before they used it (which let us state verifiably that it was the first news of Ritchie's death.) But notice also that Pike's comment about him having died over the weekend is specifically NOT confirmed. As an unconfirmed statement in a blog post, we just can't use it; it's not a WP:RS. Msnicki (talk) 19:51, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
The same goes for 12 October as date of death. There are multiple equaly reliable sources that claim that he did not die on that day. There is aboslutely no reason to believe that Wired and NOS are less reliable than The Guardian. The article on the website of The Guardian was modified at 00.10 BST on Saturday 15 October 2011, that could be because of this Wikipedia article. I am not saying that we should use 8 October as date of death, but we cannot say that he died on 12 October without mentioning that there are equaly reliable sources that claim he died during the weekend (this is per WP:NPOV). --Tjibbe I (talk) 07:09, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Dont the US have some goverment agency that register date of death of persons? Like I dont know, since I live across the big pond, something like the Social Security Death Index or something. In Europe we dont have to rely on the newspaper when somebody died, we ask the government! (talk) 04:21, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Death certificates are generally issued by the state counties in the US but they are not public records. To get a copy, you usually need to be a family member. Msnicki (talk) 05:03, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
FWIW, Death_certificates#United_States doesnt seem to agree on that stating: In the United States, death certificates are considered public domain documents and can therefore be obtained for any individual regardless of the requester's relationship to the deceased. Other jurisdictions take a different view, and restrict the issue of certificates. (talk) 10:16, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
That information is wrong. It depends on the county but I think most states now require proof of a familial relationship except for historical records. In New Jersey where Ritchie died, unless you can prove your relationship, you can only get a certification, not an actual certified copy. Other states, e.g, New York and California have similar laws. Msnicki (talk) 15:03, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I know its beside the point of this page, but seriously, what a absolutly strange country the US is. Get a public Civil registry like normal counties have for pete's sake! Its not Orwellian, its about societys right to educate itself (as a bonus you dont have to do those stupid censuses (or at least not as detailed) and people dont have to register to get to vote). (talk) 10:18, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

The consensus to use 12 October as date of death seems to be with three persons only. The consensus on the fact that there are sources that mention an other day as date of death (not date of found death, alltough there are sources that mention an other date for that too) seems to be broader than that, and at least one of the three persons mentioned earlier consents on that too.

Both the facts that Mr. Ritchie died during the weekend and the fact that he died 12 October are equaly verifiable. According to WP:NPOV this means that if we mention that Mr. Ritchie died on 12 October, we must also mention that he died over the weekend. I believe that the consensus on Wikipedia's core content policy Neutral point of view is much broader than just three people. I have decided to remove 12 October as date of death from the article. I do not think we will know the exact date of death until someone comes up with an obituary written by the family of the deceased, or with a death certificate.

Anyone who whishes to re-add 12 October as the only true date of death is requested to explain why before doing so. --Tjibbe I (talk) 14:21, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Tjibbe, you concede that three of us agree on Oct 12 but you don't. Lots of times that's all we get participating in a discussion. If you want to change it, you need to show that more people agree with you than with whatever's in the article now. You don't have that. A weekend date is not equally verifiable for all the reasons already explained. I have reverted your change. Get agreement first, don't just insist that the consensus is wrong or that you think you need to be even more outnumbered before it counts. Msnicki (talk) 15:13, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Funny thing (though on not funny topic) is that Ru.Wiki quotes Oct 8 date, relying to the article at, that in turn relies upon this En.Wiki article. Net Result is that serching for Dennis Ritchie on RuGoogle gives two topmost results those very pages from RuWiki and EnWiki, quoting different dates. Looks very weird. Does anyone has public fact, that he died on Oct.8 ? No. Does anyone has public fact, that he died on Oct.12 ? No. Any fixed date is Original Research. I believe, the article should literally state "found dead on October 13". Period. As about the form on the right, death date can be "October 2011" without exact day. I believe the is not the 1st person whos death or birth date is not known exactly. For some you can tell even minute and second, for others only month, for someone even not a year. That is life. (talk) 18:49, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Okay, you make a good suggestion. I've added "Found dead" to the date in the infobox. The date is still Oct 12 based on the NY Times report that it was "Wednesday", which was the 12th. Does that work for everyone? Msnicki (talk) 19:38, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
If you add the same text to the first line of the article, it works for me. Thank you. --Tjibbe I (talk) 06:54, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Okay, on your suggestion, I've inserted "found dead" into that sentence also, following the style of reporting in William Shakespeare. Msnicki (talk) 15:26, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

"Found dead" is not a polite phrasing appropriate to replace actual date of death. The custom is to use the date they were found as the date they died unless you have a death certificate saying otherwise. I am shocked that such a rude phrasing would be used on a page about a great man. (talk) 11:43, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

That's a valid point. I too don't particularly like the "found dead" phrase, since it implies that he died alone and without his family, friends or anybody else around him. However, that's just how it happened according to the published information, and we can't change the facts. Realistically speaking it is also not a particularly rare event and it doesn't necessarily "mean anything" if there are only a few days between the actual natural death and the date when someone was found. But perhaps there are phrases expressing the same in even more neutral words? What about "announced dead on" leaving it just a slightly bit more open without stating anything wrong? --Matthiaspaul (talk) 18:10, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for adding the comment discouraging changes without discussion. That was a good idea. The reliable sources say "found dead" so I think that's what we need to stick with. Facts are neutral. Msnicki (talk) 18:22, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but words are not. ;-) If we can find a phrase less prone to interpretation I think we should use it instead of the current one at least in the intro and the personal info box. After all, other biographical articles don't discuss the circumstances of death in the intro as well. It is not normally important, and I'm sure we wouldn't do it here as well if we only knew the exact date so that we could state it in the usual way. We should not change the "found dead" phrase in the "Death and legacy" section further down, however, as this seems to be the proper location to discuss circumstances in better details (if known). --Matthiaspaul (talk) 19:50, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
If we can find a reliable source that offers a better, more acceptable (to consensus) description that's less open to interpretation, I'm all for it. But rewording to "find a phrase less prone to interpretation" sounds to me like imposing one. If the source was unclear what they meant, we shouldn't introduce our own WP:OR interpretation or synthesis to narrow it down. We definitely shouldn't do it when the reason is we just don't like some of those possible other interpretations.
To the extent it helps clarify my position, let me say that even if Ritchie did die alone, I don't attach the same sad meaning to it that Matthiaspaul does. Who plans when they're going to die? Of course this happens. I'm getting up there in age, so I know something about this. When my brother-in-law died in NYC, it was weeks before they found him in his apartment. Unless you're in a care facility, and especially if you're retired and living by yourself, there just plain is a good chance you will die alone (but probably quickly and with little warning else you'd have dialed 911) and that you may not be found for a while. There's also no Easter Bunny. Msnicki (talk) 20:15, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you got me wrong a little. I'm not sad or such, I just found the article's rather strong emphasize on the circumstances of his death somewhat odd - at present it is mentioned in the introduction, in the person info box and in a separate section. You won't find this info in the lead of other biographical articles (just the plain dates) unless the death was part of why a person has become notable. Dennis Ritchie was clearly notable for a multitude of other things, and the circumstances of his death are close to trivia information. It should be mentioned, but not with this strong emphasize, I think. (Of course, we know, where this emphasize came from; it came as an unnoticed side-effect of finding a short phrase to indicate that the given date is not the exact date of death but just an approximation.)
For me, it was just a slightly odd feeling when reading the article, nothing harmful, nothing to worry about, but when I then read the IP's comment above, it became clear to me that other people have stumbled upon and found it somewhat inappropriate as well. I think even within the bounds of the currently available sources we can find a finer nuanced phrase without adding interpretations, without leaving neutral grounds, and, of course, without suppressing any facts. After all, we are not bound to verbatim copy from the sources but are entitled to extract the information relevant for us. For the intro and side box, the circumstances of death are not relevant, so we should find a phrase not mentioning or implying them. Further down in the section "Death and legacy", the circumstances are important (I wish we had better sources), so that's where the info should be added (that is, not be removed) and the phrase "found dead" is perfectly fine there in my humble opinion. My suggestion for the intro was "announced dead on", because that's what is typically used over here in Germany in similar cases, but I have no idea if this is also a phrase used in the English world. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 00:06, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you have your answer. If Ritchie had been a German computer scientist living in Hamburg, perhaps his death would have been reported by Die Zeit as "announced dead" and that would be the language we'd use here. But Ritchie was an American, living in New Jersey, and his death was reported by The New York Times, published only 30 miles away, as "found dead." (Is it possible that all that's going on here is that this is just one more case where behavior that seems perfectly ordinary to Americans seems odd to others around the world?) Msnicki (talk) 17:35, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
 ;-) I'll leave that for others to decide... ;-) --Matthiaspaul (talk) 17:46, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Hello. I'm afraid I must agree with Matthiaspaul. The phrasing in the header strikes me as abrupt and undignified. My suggestion would be to put the confirmed date as a normal death date with a nb tag linking to the details in the sources, as on the Shakespeare page. Let's let the life stand out. c10191 (talk) 09:03, 8 February 2012 (UTC)
An Old topic now that is still not resolved. I have to agree that "Found Dead" is not very dignified or polite Im not debating the date of death but can we try and use different wording or even put a note with a caveat.Chiefmanzzz (talk) 03:02, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Mail from Gerard J Holzmann, ex Bell Labs, author of the "Alumni of the Bell Labs Computing Sciences Research Center" page, answering my demand for date details (reproduced here with his permission):

I learned of Dennis's death on Wednesday October 12.
The news reached us from Bill Ritchie, Dennis's brother, who
found him that day, in his house.  Dennis was thought to have
passed away sometime over the weekend -- so October 8 or 9.
I've used October 9 as the best available guess.
In the NYT obituary that appeared on October 14 Steve Lohr
accurately notes that he was found dead on October 12 -- which
is I think all we can say with accuracy....

--Nilx (talk) 16:59, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

  • For the opening sentence, how about "(September 9, 1941 – c. October 12, 2011)"? This is conventional usage when exact vital dates are unknown. Leave it to the body of the article to explain why the date of death is uncertain. I agree with those who say it is vulgar to put it in the lede. ~ Ningauble (talk) 15:34, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Hi Everyone. I've recently been in contact with Dennis Ritchie's family to resolve this. Stay on the line; I'll keep you posted. --Aerovistae — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aerovistae (talkcontribs) 19:53, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

That may not help. We can't use personal knowledge. Everything we report has to be verifiable in reliable sources. Msnicki (talk) 22:32, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

And who better to get a reliable source from? I don't understand your argument. Is the newspaper a reliable source? If so, where are they getting their information? Oftentimes from direct interviews. What's wrong with cutting out the middleman? Aerovistae (talk) 21:48, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

The family could be a great source as long as it's reliably reported and verifiable. If the family releases a statement to the press, we could use that. What we can't use is personal knowledge, even if it did come from a conversation with the family because that can't be verified and because none of us (mostly anonymous) editors are reliable sources. Msnicki (talk) 15:43, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Hmm. The family has informed me that the date on his death certificate, as written by a doctor, is October 12. Is there any way to make this a usable source? Aerovistae (talk) 23:45, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

Dennis position regarding FOSS[edit]

Did not dennis openly have a position from free software and open source ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:35, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Dennis, in his "keynote" speech at the 25th anniversary celebration of UNIX at a USENIX Technical Conference, graciously acknowledged the contributions of the GNU Project to the UNIX Community. If someone wants to trace that down, there might be a transcript or video of the speech, perhaps on Lentower (talk) 18:51, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
Ritchie gave a keynote, "What happens when your kid turns 21?", at the Jun 1990 USENIX in Anaheim in the form of an interview. This is the only one I could find.
  • Donner, Marc (June 1990). "The 1990 Summer USENIX Association Conference: OPEC vs. the Medellin Cartel". USENIX Association News For AUUG Members (Kensington NSW, Australia: AUUG Inc) 11 (3): 50–51. Retrieved Jan 30 2012. Ritchie began by acknowledging the influence of Multics ... the tree-structured file system and the concept of the shell as a separate program. ... asked Ritchie his opinion of C++. Ritchie declined to comment, citing an "agreement with Bjarne [Stroustroup] that I don't give lectures on C++ and he doesn't talk about old C. ... Asked about his greatest satisfaction from the UNIX work, Ritchie cited the influence it had in creating new companies and new directions for old companies. ... Ritchie proceeded to show a videotape of an infamous practical joke that Ritchie, Rob Pike and magicians Penn and Teller played on their boss, Nobel Prize winner Arno Penzias.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
A video on the practical joke on Penzias mentioned in this source can seen here. This lecture is also mentioned by Peter H. Salus on this page, where Daniel Greer recounts his own example of Ritchie's wit, wearing a badge that said Bill Joy at a USENIX conference. Msnicki (talk) 19:33, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

died "after a long illness"? what does that mean?[edit]

if a cause of death is not stated, then who cares about "a long illness"? these articles must be more clear. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:38, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. When you believe an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top.
The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes—they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to).  Chzz  ►  06:43, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
It means that is what was reported by reliable sources. -- Jibal (talk) 20:02, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
The New York Times article has correct information. Dennis was frail for quite some time, but was still coming in to Bell Labs occasionally. Peter F. Patel-Schneider (talk) 22:48, 14 October 2011 (UTC)


This article needs improvement guys, Steve Jobs has a full made article, while a person who was far greater than him is has a Start level Article, please help me improve it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mihir.khatwani (talkcontribs) 14:53, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

It doesn't work that way. If you have improvements to make, make them. -- Jibal (talk) 20:04, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Usenet is a strange place[edit]

"Usenet is a strange place" is a dmr's quotation, not an original phrase. It's his answer for Usenet users wondering if he currently reads newsgroup (dated 29 July 1999):

The answer is a subject of an earlier thread from alt.religion.christian.presbyterian newsgroup (dated 11 May 1999):

I think that in the context of quoted threads dmr's phrase may be read: "You can check by yourself that I'm up to date, reading many newsgroups and I agree that Usenet is a strange place." Andrzej P. Wozniak (talk) 21:47, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from , 15 October 2011[edit]

Error in his date of death. According to, Dennis Ritchie died on October 8th. THe article says it was the 12th. Mikemtnbikes (talk) 04:00, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

N Not done. Please see Dennis Ritchie#Death and legacy. Only the date he was found can be reliably established. The date of October 8th in early reports appears to have been suggested by Rob Pike's post but can't be confirmed; it may well have been copied from speculation here on Wikipedia. The Associated Press states the the cause and exact date of his death has not been disclosed. Msnicki (talk) 04:24, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Family says: "Dennis died in early October, 2011." In Memoriam Dennis died in early October, 2011. This is a note from his sister and brothers: As Dennis's siblings, Lynn, John, and Bill Ritchie--on behalf of the entire Ritchie family--we wanted to convey to all of you how deeply moved, astonished, and appreciative we are of the loving tributes to Dennis that we have been reading. We can confirm what we keep hearing again and again: Dennis was an unfailingly kind, sweet, unassuming, and generous brother--and of course a complete geek. He had a hilariously dry sense of humor, and a keen appreciation for life's absurdities--though his world view was entirely devoid of cynicism or mean-spiritedness. We are terribly sad to have lost him, but touched beyond words to realize what a mark he made on the world, and how well his gentle personality--beyond his accomplishments--seems to be understood. Lynn, John, and Bill Ritchie Solasso (talk) 16:07, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Comparison to Steve Jobs[edit]

The article says: "although Ritchie's death did not receive as much media coverage, computer historians such as Paul Ceruzzi said his influence was comparable." This sounds like his work was considered comparable only by a few people. Since Mac OS X, iOS and Objective-C are all based on his inventions, he might in fact be considered more influential than Steve Jobs (and probably would be by most people who have studied computer science). That sentence should be rewritten somehow. (talk) 12:50, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

I have to agree with that...Wamnet (talk)
#include <stdio.h>

    printf("goodbye, world\n");
— Preceding unsigned comment added by Avstin (talkcontribs) 17:41, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree and I think the reference about Steve Jobs' death should be replaced by John McCarthy's departure (RIP) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:56, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

Dennis Ritchie did not officially earn a PhD.[edit]

I'm proposing a change to correct the statement that Dennis Ritchie earned a PhD from Harvard in 1968.

In his book, "Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists and Iconoclasts--The Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution", Steve Lohr documents his interview with Dennis Ritchie:

"He continued to study toward his Ph.D. in mathematics, yet he never got his doctorate, even though he finished his dissertation and defended it. But afterwards, he was too disinterested to do the necessary paperwork to obtain the degree. He remembered the episode more than three decades later as 'one of those things that one regrets doing, or not, in this case, in relative youth.' At the time, however, he was too interested in moving on to a career in computing to care." [1]

Thanks to Steve Lohr of the NY Times for pointing this out to me in an email correspondence.

Troydejongh (talk) 23:29, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Personal life[edit]

There's no mention of marriage, children etc. Does anyone have any information on these (or not, if the case be)? peterl (talk) 02:37, 17 October 2011 (UTC)


The ODP has a recently updated category for dmr. --Elper (talk) 19:20, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

External links[edit]

It would probably be unhelpful to worry about pruning the external links section at this stage, but I noticed the recent skirmish regarding Find a Grave (external link). The fact that there is a template does not give the site an automatic reason to be added to an article, as established at exhaustive discussions which I think are reasonably summarized here (that essay says to add rarely). I advise not trying to read this long discussion. Regardless of precedent, the findagrave link seems totally unhelpful for this article and it should be removed (there's nothing at WP:EL to support the link). Johnuniq (talk) 03:00, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

According to WP:LINKSTOAVOID point 1 and point 2, the link to should be avoided:

  1. The website does not provide an unique resource;
  2. The website seems to contain unverifiable research. (See the discussion #Different death dates above also.)

If the website would actually provide a photo of the grave and the location of the grave, then it would be both an unique and a verifiable resource. At the moment it is not, so this link should not be in the article. --Tjibbe I (talk) 10:18, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Random quotes and sources[edit]

Geo Swan (talk · contribs) Geo Swan added, "In an interview shortly after Ritchie's death long time colleague Brian Kernighan said Dennis never expected C to be so significant.[20] Kernighan reminded readers of how important a role C and UNIX had played in the development of later high-profile projects, like the iphone.[sic] Other testimonials to his inlfuence[sic] followed." But the sources cited are low-quality and run-of-the-mill, little more than blog comments. One isn't even an article about Ritchie, it's an article about Jobs, arguing that he wasn't really that great after all. Further, the quotes supplied don't even directly support the statements, especially the comment about the iPhone. I reverted this stuff with the remark, "Low-quality WP:run-of-the-mill sources that don't even directly support the statements added." Yworo (talk · contribs) reverted me with the comment, "misapplication of essay, which is about topics, not sources".

Run-of-the-mill refers to stuff that's just like lots of other stuff. We didn't invent the term here on Wikipedia and it doesn't apply only to AfD discussions of notability. These sources and the quotes from them are completely generic. You could find people writing stuff like this in a bazillion blogs all over the planet. Not everything is the New York Times. This stuff doesn't add anything. If everyone else thinks, oh, yes, this is really good stuff, I love it, okay, I have to bow to consensus. But I think this should go. It's junk and it doesn't add anything. Msnicki (talk) 16:57, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

I won't comment about how good the source is, but I do think the first sentence ("... never expected C to be so significant") is noteworthy, even if the commentary by Kernighan is not. If someone who develops a major programming language didn't expect it to be significant, that's worth noting in the article. (talk) 00:45, 14 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm sure Ken Thompson never expected Unix to be so significant, either. Basically, when first developed these systems were for use by only a handful of people, with perhaps several more within the company eventually. I don't see the remark as particularly significant, nor even very interesting. — DAGwyn (talk) 05:22, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
I only noticed this reversion today. I am restoring the material. The other contributor describes the sources as "low quality" and "run of the mill". I must admit this is the first time I have seen [[The Economist]] described as a low quality source. Kernighan is one of the most important computer scientist of the 20th Century. Some of the references may not be mainstream reliable sources. But computer science is not a topic normally covered in depth in the mainstream media. So I have no problem citing more specialized sources for a specialty topic. It the exciser has more specific objection I encourage them to state them here. Geo Swan (talk) 06:06, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Only one of the sources was the Economist and the quote from it was "NOW that digital devices are fashion items, it is easy to forget what really accounts for their near-magical properties. Without the operating systems which tell their different physical bits what to do, and without the languages in which these commands are couched, the latest iSomething would be a pretty but empty receptacle. The gizmos of the digital age owe a part of their numeric souls to Dennis Ritchie and John McCarthy." I still contend this adds nothing to the article. And I also still contend that the rest of the sources, with the exception of the interview with Kernighan, genuinely ARE blogs and similar quality junk. Msnicki (talk) 06:36, 27 January 2012 (UTC)
Is it possible that you think these references, which are of the opinion that Ritchie was one of the most important figures in Computer Science, are of "low quality", because you personally don't agree with them? Perhaps you don't recognize that India's computer industry is of rising importance, making references to publications from India worth citing. I particularly selected references from around the world, as the wikipedia is an International project and the impact of Ritchie's work is world-wide. Geo Swan (talk) 15:40, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
No, that's not possible. You're being ridiculous and personalizing this. I met Dennis Ritchie several times in the mid-80s, I know his work, I've read the Unix kernel, I've been programming in his C language for nearly 30 years and I'm totally satisfied he's one of the most important figures in computer science. I just don't think blogs are reliable sources the best sources. When Ritchie died, virtually EVERY newspaper and magazine in the entire world covered it with at least a mention. There is simply no reason why we would choose to cite blogs from anywhere to establish that Ritchie was an important computer scientist when we've got better sources like actual news stories from the New York Times and elsewhere. Msnicki (talk) 16:06, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) If I understand the position you put forward in your most recent comment, you aren't challening whether the views summarized in the passage you excised were neutral expressed, or relevant, or balanced, or lapsed from any other policy. If I understand your most recent justification your only concern was that the "blog" weren't WP:Reliable sources.
The Hindu's about us page asserts it has been in publication since 1878 -- over 143 years. It has been a daily publication for over 122 years. The Deccan Herald's about us page asserts this daily has been in publication since 1948. I suggest your characterization of these two publications as "low-quality" blogs is, um, ill-informed.
We have an article on ExtremeTech, another publication you dismissed as a "blog". When we think of blogs we think of some isolated guy or gal sitting alone, at home, sharing their thoughts, without research, and without the review of an established editorial policy and editorial staff. When we disallow "blogs" as reliable sources, those are the publications we mean. But there are lots of publications called "blogs", by their authors, or by others, which nonetheless, are as reliable as print publications. Scotusblog being a good example. Print publications cite the respected legal scholars who write for Scotusblog -- and not vice versa. Well, the wikipedia page on ExtremeTech calls it a weblog, but also makes clear it is run by paid editors, employed by Ziff Davis. So, I suggest your dismissal of it as not an RS is also thoughtless.
Newswise is an online publication, but according to its about us page it has been operating since 1992, and has paid editorial staff. Since an editorial policy, editorial control, should be a main distinguishing factor between basement bloggers, and reliable online publications, I dispute that you should have dismissed as a "blog".
CIOL is also an online publication, but, according to its about us page it too has editorial control and over 400,000 paid subscribers], so, once again, I dispute your dismissal of it as a "blog".
With regard to the Money Control reprint of the Forbes India interview with Brian Kernighan -- in retrospect I regret not using the original interview, which is still online. Nevertheless, Money Control's about us page makes clear it has editorial control exercised over it.
You eventually acknowledged that The Economist is not a blog. You didn't explain how you came to characterize it as a blog in the first place.
You write "I know his work ... and I'm totally satisfied he's one of the most important figures in computer science. I just don't think blogs are reliable sources." Well, since I think I have demonstrated that your assertion the references I used were WP:RS I am going to revert your excision.
Feel free to add references you consider superior to these. Please do not excise this material, that you acknowledge is policy compliant.
I am opening a thread on WP:RSN on this issue. Geo Swan (talk) 18:33, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
I think it's a good idea to list this discussion there. I waited but when you didn't do it, I did, at WP:RSN#Blog sources in Dennis Ritchie. Msnicki (talk) 23:54, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Let me explain something else about what bothered me about the Economist citation: It was the quote about gizmos and that this was offered in support of a fairly meaningless statement about Ritchie's legacy that "Other testimonials to his inlfuence[sic] followed."
There are at least a couple ways to look at Ritchie's legacy. One might be the huge economic or societal impact of all these smart gizmos that use his ideas. Another would be his technical influence and the many ideas he introduced that we now take for granted (light process models, stdio, IPC, terse language, the shell, etc.)
But here's the thing: To establish any part of the story, we should use sources that are reliable for the purpose. And there was so much coverage, we have our pick of sources to do it. It would make sense to use a story from the Economist to establish the size of the market for all gizmos using Ritchie's ideas or to talk about how they've changed the world for people whose understanding and interest in the technical details goes no deeper than to call them gizmos. But it makes no sense to use any source that refers to this stuff as "gizmos" and "numerical souls" to establish technical influence; they're telling you right there that they don't pretend to understand how this stuff works. We can do better and I think we owe it to ourselves and to the memory of this man. Msnicki (talk) 17:23, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
Okay, well, I've had my say and I do not edit war; consensus is what matters to me. But I disagree with this edit for reasons stated and would support reverting it. My own last edits removing or correcting the material were here and here. Msnicki (talk) 19:36, 28 January 2012 (UTC)
We are all supposed to assume good faith. It has always seemed to me that a corollary of this obligation is that we should all feel obliged to show good faith. I think this includes actually reading the counter-arguments of of those who disagree with us. I think this includes giving those counter-arguments a fair reading, and being prepared to recognize and openly acknowledge our own mistakes. I am disappointed that another contributor in this discussion continues to call print newspapers with decades or centuries of print publication "blogs". Geo Swan (talk) 23:16, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
The fact that you believe your arguments are superior does not obligate anyone else to agree. To suggest a lack of good faith simply because another editor has failed to "openly acknowledge" their alleged "mistakes" because they don't agree with you is simply beyond the pale. I think you should re-read the essay to understand what good faith means. It's not about insisting that everyone agree you're right. It's about respecting that other people will have different opinions for what they consider good reasons. Msnicki (talk) 17:19, 30 January 2012 (UTC)
  • No one has asserted you are obliged to agree with me. I will be disappointed so long as the record suggests you remove material the record shows you didn't bother reading -- as you indisputably did here. I will be disappointed when you don't make an effort to read and respond to collegial counter-arguments. You continue to call non-blogs "blogs" and this concerns me.
  • No one objects to you thinking superior references exist than the ones an article currently uses.
  • No one will object to you removing inferior references -- provided you replace them with superior ones which fully replace them -- in a timely matter.
In this particular case the record shows you removed perfectly satisfactory, policy-compliant references, but made no effort to replace them, for almost two months, until I raised the issue. If it is your intention to replace the perfectly adequate, policy compliant references I found with superior references, that is fine with me. Better late than never. But, for the record, I don't think I am someone who has anything to apologize for here. Geo Swan (talk) 15:51, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
I respect your right to your opinion. Msnicki (talk) 17:09, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
I accept your apology. Geo Swan (talk) 12:25, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
That's not an apology. I wouldn't apologize to a tedious jerk like you with a gun to my head. I simply don't wish to deal with you anymore. Msnicki (talk) 16:22, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
I think the record shows I have remained civil to you. I request you make the effort to comply with our policies and standards and show civility to your correspondents. Geo Swan (talk) 16:58, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
I invite you to file a complaint and see what happens. Unless you're prepared to do that, I ask that please drop the stick and back away from the horse. Msnicki (talk) 17:02, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

A few additional sources[edit]

I've been asked for my own thoughts on additional sources to flesh out the section on Ritchie's legacy. Here are a few I like. The Rob Pike citation is a blog and, arguably, so is Brockmeier's but I would hold both of them out as special, for different reasons. Pike is speaking as lifetime colleague; he was the one who broke the news of Ritchie's death. Brockmeier is the former Editor in Chief at Linux Magazine and I just love his reporting, meticulously citing his remarks (offering up another treasure trove of wonderful material) and, exactly as a good journalist should do, letting other people's words tell the story.

I'll try to find some time to work these into the article but if anyone cares to beat me to it, please go for it.

  • Toomey, Warren (December 2011). "The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix". IEEE Spectrum (IEEE). Retrieved Jan 29 2012. Unix's great influence can be traced in part to its elegant design, simplicity, portability, and serendipitous timing. But perhaps even more important was the devoted user community that soon grew up around it. And that came about only by an accident of its unique history. So what did the first edition of Unix offer that made it so great? For one thing, the system provided a hierarchical file system ... Most important, the system offered an interactive environment that by this time allowed time-sharing ... early Unix adopters banded together for mutual assistance, forming a loose network of user groups all over the world. They had the source code, which helped. ... Unix is indeed one of the most influential operating systems ever invented. ... AT&T subsidiary Unix System Laboratories filed suit against Berkeley Software Design and the Regents of the University of California in 1992 ... The ensuing legal quagmire slowed the development of free Unix-like clones ... Had this operating system been available at the time, Linus Torvalds says he probably wouldn't have created Linux, an open-source Unix-like operating system he developed from scratch for PCs in the early 1990s.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  • Naugton, John (Oct 15 2011), "Dennis Ritchie: the other man inside your iPhone", the Observer: 19, retrieved Jan 29 2012, It's funny how fickle fame can be. One week Steve Jobs dies and his death tops the news agendas in dozens of countries. Just over a week later, Dennis Ritchie dies and nobody – except for a few geeks – notices. And yet his work touched the lives of far more people than anything Steve Jobs ever did. ... Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson were two ferociously bright Bell programmers who .. in a fantastic burst of creativity ... wrote Unics (as a counterpart to Multics). Inevitably the 'cs' became 'x' and Unix was born. Thus did AT&T find itself the astonished proprietor of a uniquely powerful and innovative operating system. The problem was that it couldn't sell it ... So the researchers in Bell Labs ... gave it away to their peers in university research labs ... In doing this Ritchie and Thompson unwittingly launched the academic discipline of computer science ... virtually every computer science student in the world became a Unix geek ... The rest, as they say, is history. Linux became one of the greatest collaborative ventures the world has seen (second only to Wikipedia).  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help); |chapter= ignored (help)
  • Pike, Rob (Oct 13 2011). "(untitled)". Retrieved Jan 29 2012. the resurgence of Apple depended a great deal on Dennis's work with C and Unix. ... The Unix and Linux (and Mac OS X and I think even Windows) kernels are all C programs. The web browsers and major web servers are all in C or C++, and almost all of the rest of the Internet ecosystem is in C or a C-derived language (C++, Java), or a language whose implementation is in C or a C-derived language (Python, Ruby, etc.). C is also a common implementation language for network firmware. And on and on. And that's just C. Dennis was also half of the team that created Unix (the other half being Ken Thompson), which in some form or other (I include Linux) runs all the machines at Google's data centers and probably at most other server farms. Most web servers run above Unix kernels; most non-Microsoft web browsers run above Unix kernels in some form, even in many phones. And speaking of phones, the software that runs the phone network is largely written in C.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  • Brockmeier, Joe (Oct 13 2011). "Remembering Dennis Ritchie, Creator of the C Programming Language and UNIX Co-Creator". ReadWrite Enterprise. Retrieved Jan 29 2012. Brian Kerninghan said that with C "Dennis managed to find a perfect balance between expressiveness and efficiency. It was just right for creating systems programs like compilers, editors, and even operating systems. C made it possible for a programmer to get close to the machine for efficiency but remain far enough away to avoid being tied to a specific machine... As a result, C became in effect a universal assembler: close enough to the machine to be cost effective, but far enough away that a C program could be compiled for and run well on any machine." ... Tim Bray writes, "Unix combines more obvious-in-retrospect engineering design choices than anything else I've seen or am likely to see in my lifetime... It is impossible – absolutely impossible – to overstate the debt my profession owes to Dennis Ritchie. I've been living in a world he helped invent for over thirty years." ... The combination of C and UNIX have been at the core of computing ever since ... UNIX ultimately spawned dozens of versions, including SunOS and Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, NeXTSTEP, BSD, A/UX, Mac OS X and many others. UNIX inspired the GNU Project and Linux, though they are not derived from the same codebase. C is still widely used, as are its direct descendants; C++, Perl, Objective-C, Java, C#, PHP and many others.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)

I also liked this one, from the Harvard Crimson, both because Ritchie was a very distinguished alumnnus and because the tone is so warmly personal. I liked Seltzer's comments; they matched my impressions the few times I met Ritchie at the USENIX conferences.

  • Sebenius, Alyza J. (Oct 17 2011). "Dennis M. Ritchie, Tech Expert Alumnus, Dies At 70". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved Jan 29 2012. Professor of Physics and of Electrical Engineering Paul Horowitz ’65 ... who knew Ritchie from his high school and college years, said ... "He made a dent in the fabric of computer science,” ... Professor of Computer Science Margo L. Seltzer met Ritchie when she was a graduate student. “It didn’t matter if you were a graduate student or a Nobel Laureate—your thoughts, questions, and opinions mattered just as much as anyone else’s,” ... “From my perspective, Dennis hated being the limelight—he always preferred being treated as ‘just another conference attendee’ and wanted to hang out in the hallway and take part in whatever conversation was going on—it didn’t have to even be about computers.” ... “He was a wonderful human being—not just a brilliant creator and engineer, but a kind, friendly, witty person,”  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)

Finally, I would completely drop my concerns about using the Economist article (which actually is quite good and is indeed from a very distinguished publication) if only we could pick some better quotes from it to support more interesting facts. Msnicki (talk) 23:55, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

One more. I like this both because of Ritchie's long association with USENIX (this is where everyone met him) and because it's so personal.

  • "USENIX Remembers Dennis Ritchie (1941–2011)". USENIX. Oct 25 2011. Retrieved Jan 30 2012. From Brian Kernighan: ... Dennis was a great programmer, of course, but he was a great writer as well, with the spare, elegant style of the C reference manual, and a deft touch with humor, as in the famous comment at line 2238 of the 6th Edition UNIX source: /* You are not expected to understand this. */  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)

Msnicki (talk) 18:38, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

Broken link, The Washington Post[edit]

The url to the Washington Post article ("Summary Box: Dennis Ritchie, pioneer in computer programming at Bell Labs, dies at 70") seems broken. Some googling seemed to turn up this and this on their website only (with the latter already being linked in this wiki article), couldn't find the originally linked one anymore. And this one seems to be closest to the original title, but still does not match exactly. --Tddt (talk) 02:31, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

I'm the one who added that citation, so I know it certainly did exist on the Washington Post site on that date I retrieved it. More to the point, it was an AP story, so it got carried widely; Googling for just the text turns up lots of hits, e.g., on the Boston Globe's site, if you'd like to update the citation. Hope that helps. Msnicki (talk) 05:02, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

Quotes in the citations[edit]

Kkm010 has been removing all the quotes from the citations and I've been restoring them.

  1. The first time he did it, his edit summary was misleading, saying only, "clean up, typos fixed: e.g → e.g. using AWB".
  2. I restored them with the edit summary, "Restoring all the quotes in citations. They support the claims in the article".
  3. Kkm010 deleted them again with the edit summary, "Quote aren't required since the actual link is present if someone wants to view he/she can visit the orignal link".
  4. I restored them again with the edit summary, "It's not a matter of whether they're "required". The quotes are helpful, especially if any of the sources disappear."
  5. He again deleted with the summary, "same explanation "no source get disappears"".
  6. I restored them with the summary, "Once again restoring quotes. Sources do go offline. Please see talk page before changing again."

So here we are. I feel the quotes are helpful in their own right because they allow readers to compare the wording used in the article to the source supporting it, without necessarily having to go find the article and, somewhere within it, the passage being relied on. And for those who do want to consult the source, the quote identifies the section that was relied on, allowing the reader to decide for himself if the quote was cherry-picked. Further, sources do disappear. In the immediately preceding section on this very talk page, Talk:Dennis Ritchie#Broken link, The Washington Post, we have such a case. The Washington Post "Summary Box" article did go off-line. But because it was an AP story, I was able to Google for the text in the quote and find it on the Boston Globe's site. Without the quote, I wouldn't have been able to do that.

I confess I have no idea why Kkm010 is so insistent on removing the quotes. Is he afraid there's a shortage of pixels, that if we use some for quotes, there won't be enough left for the article? Does he think the quote field in the citation template is there just to fool the newbies? Is there something in the guidelines that discourages quotes in citations? Is he arguing that the quotes somehow compromise the encyclopedic integrity of the article? If it's just that he doesn't like them, I think it should be sufficient that he just not read them. I definitely don't think he should be deleting them willy-nilly without gaining consensus support. And I don't think he can get that support.

Before he deletes the quotes again, I ask that he discuss his reasons here and gain consensus, first. Msnicki (talk) 15:51, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

While quotes are not required, it's always good if someone goes the extra-mile and provides them. It helps to concentrate on the relevant part of the cited source, it helps to verify the quality of the source, and it comes in handy if someones cites from an off-line source or if an online sources goes offline. We hardly have an excess of sources in this article, either. So, leave them in. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 21:38, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
I think there is no need for quotes since relevant sources has been provided. It is an unnecessary expansion. However, if broad consensus is achieved on this mater that quotes are really important for this type of article, particularly which has very little sources. Then I would definitely go with that popular view. But, in my opinion it is totally useless to provided quotes when credible sources has been provided. Thanks--(talk→ Kkm010 ←track) 04:21, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Is "found dead" the first thing one needs to know?[edit]

Ever since Dennis Ritchie passed away, circa 12 October 2011, there has been a long-running slow-motion edit war over whether the circumstance of being FOUND DEAD should be included in the lead section and infobox. ~ Ningauble (talk) 19:27, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Note that there is a consensus in the discussion at #Different death dates above that in consequence of that circumstance, described in the body of the article, the exact date on which he died is not known.
  • It has repeatedly been asserted, most recently here and here today, that there is a consensus for prominently mentioning the circumstance of being found dead in the lead section and infobox, but this is not explicit in the discussion above.

In order to clarify or establish a consensus, I am requesting comment on the following proposal:

Should we remove information about being "found dead" from the lead section and the infobox, and instead give the date of death as "c. October 12, 2011" in both places?

Some applicable guidelines include Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies#Opening paragraph, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section#Introductory text, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers#Dates of birth and death.

I am making a formal request for comment because my previous suggestion bulleted above was ignored as people continued to focus on uncertainty about the date. ~ Ningauble (talk) 18:50, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Support because this desultory circumstance has no bearing on any information needed for WP:OPENPARAGRAPH. It is a commonplace situation, and it is not at all common to note it this prominently in Wikipedia articles. Numerous people have remarked, on the talk page and in edit summaries, that this is inappropriate. Featuring it in the lead section and infobox gives the impression of hinting at startling facts (cf. WP:MOSINTRO) that are significant to the person's notability, but this is not the first thing one needs to know about Dennis Ritchie. ~ Ningauble (talk) 18:50, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Seems reasonable. MOS:DOB seems clear on this issue. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 19:35, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. A 'circa' is quite adequate. It is not particularly interesting that he passed away alone, and grows less so as the event of his death recedes and his life is more easily seen in better perspective. William Avery (talk) 19:59, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support - as per Ningauble above. Also, for people interested into trivia like this, the circumstances are discussed further down in the article, so we don't need to repeat them in the intro, which should only state and summarize important stuff. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 20:16, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. I've done my share of reverting the changes but only because it did appear we had a consensus, not out of any particular love for the "found dead" notation. In any event, consensus can certainly change. I agree that MOS:DOB supports the use of c. (circa). Msnicki (talk) 21:49, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done after listing at WP:RFC/BIO for one week without objection. I leave it for someone else to consider moving extensive citations from lead section to article body. Thanks to everyone who commented. ~ Ningauble (talk) 12:30, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

Really much better now, thanks. Sometimes small changes can make a difference. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 13:06, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

Why mention Steve Jobs at all?[edit]

Why is there a mention of Steve Jobs in this article at all? While the sentence is indeed factual, it is, in my opinion, irrelevant. 2crudedudes (talk) 02:40, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Because they died around the same time, and the two deaths drew comparisons in the news media. Huihermit (talk) 05:35, 3 October 2014 (UTC)

Section: Views on computing[edit]

This section is apocryphal. Some FOSS wingnut trying to put words in a dead man's mouth. Remove.

  1. ^ Lohr, Steve (2001). Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists and Iconoclasts--The Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution. 69: Basic Books. p. 264. ISBN 0465042260.