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Jobs, Ritchie and America’s Media Obsession

When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” –  God Entity


Two deaths this week reinforce America’s media obsession with marketing over engineering. One death is heralded as the passing of a demigod (Steve Jobs), while the other received obscurity (Dennis Ritchie). The former was the marketing genius behind Apple success. The later was the co-inventor of Unix and, more importantly, the creator of C. Without Ritchie’s innovation and hard work, there would be no technological foundation for a company like Apple.


But such myopic coverage is nothing new in theUS. It is the norm. Unlike other countries, the actual architects of technology of rarely recognized in our country. Instead, the focus is on consumption, on the shiny surface of things.


But this is the way of things. If we, as engineers, do our job well, no one will really be sure that we did anything at all. Unlike Jobs, engineers are not demigods. But our creations allow our business leaders and market visionaries (like Jobs) to shine – at least for a little while.

Robot Bender (not shown) talks with the God Entity from Futuroma’s Godfellas episode.

3 Responses to “Jobs, Ritchie and America’s Media Obsession”

  1. JesseJ Says:

    One of my favorite quotes from magician Frank Garcia, as he waved his hands over a deck of cards was:

    “I do nothing, but I do it well!”

  2. Roberto Avanzi Says:

    I happen to be one of those that think that the overall legacy of Dennis Ritchie is more important than that of Steve Jobs, but I have seen so many stupid comments that I want to provoke a bit. Just a bit.

    1. Ritchie designed C, the programming language whose “features” are the first cause of a programmer mindset that leads to almost all software insecurities and exploits. Jobs’ vision led to the least insecure smartphone platform so far.

    2. Ritchie invented unix, but it was Jobs’ company that made the first user friendly unix.

    Now flame.

  3. Gary Dare Says:

    No flame here, Roberto. While both Ritchie and Jobs were giants, the main difference is that Dennis Ritchie’s accomplishments were in the technology infrastructure while Jobs’ were in the user interface. The majority of people will experience technology through the user interface.

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