Derb at NRO mentions a fact that hasn't popped up in any of the usual news sources: Dennis Ritchie, the R in K&R, died last week at the age of 70.
Note the sharp difference between the obit coverage of Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie. Jobs was a promoter who invented nothing; Ritchie co-invented the C language and the Unix operating system. Ritchie's work was massively
more important to the history of technology than Jobs's work. But he didn't wear turtlenecks and didn't appear in Superbowl ads, so we don't know he existed and don't know he died.
Jobs is given credit for making the computer more accessible to ordinary users.
Ritchie made the computer more accessible to programmers.
Existing high-level languages (COBOL, FORTRAN, BASIC) were designed to protect the hardware from the programmer. They kept you at a safe distance, with the same bureaucratic feel as submitting punched cards to the Official Electric Brain Supervisor. C allowed you to muck around in the hardware directly. For the first time you could do powerful things as well as dumb things.
Personally speaking: I mentioned last week
that Apple had zero effect on my life and career. By contrast, C was a critical step in my career. In 1983 I was switching from electronics to programming, and had already done some good original work in waveform analysis using Basic and assembly language on PCs. When Basic began to fade and C became available, I resisted for a little while but finally dove in with both feet. Can't honestly say C was ever fun or magical, but it was the necessary key to a serious career in graphics programming.
Perhaps a good epitaph would be a paraphrased famous passage from K&R's reference: Guaranteed to be suitably aligned for any type of heavenly object.