Having spent much of my 20s being a C programmer, I was one of many to whom Dennis Ritchie was a demigod. I still have my prized (and much thumbed through) copy of the classic The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie somewhere in a box of old books. It was the C programmer's absolutely indispensible bible. Ritchie had an elegant mind and he used it to design the most elegant language and operating system. His death is very sad.
Steve Lohr in the New York Times:
Dennis M. Ritchie, who helped shape the modern digital era by creating software tools that power things as diverse as search engines like Google and smartphones, was found dead on Wednesday at his home in Berkeley Heights, N.J. He was 70.
Mr. Ritchie, who lived alone, was in frail health in recent years after treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease, said his brother Bill.
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, working at Bell Labs, Mr. Ritchie made a pair of lasting contributions to computer science. He was the principal designer of the C programming language and co-developer of the Unix operating system, working closely with Ken Thompson, his longtime Bell Labs collaborator.
The C programming language, a shorthand of words, numbers and punctuation, is still widely used today, and successors like C++ and Java build on the ideas, rules and grammar that Mr. Ritchie designed.