At least for the people who send me mail about a new language that they're designing, the general advice is: do it to learn about how to write a compiler.
UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity.
When I read commentary about suggestions for where C should go, I often think back and give thanks that it wasn't developed under the advice of a worldwide crowd.
C++ and Java, say, are presumably growing faster than plain C, but I bet C will still be around.
I've done a reasonable amount of travelling, which I enjoyed, but not for too long at a time.
I'm not a person who particularly had heros when growing up.
Obviously, the person who had most influence on my career was Ken Thompson.
I'm just an observer of Java, and where Microsoft wants to go with C# is too early to tell.
C is peculiar in a lot of ways, but it, like many other successful things, has a certain unity of approach that stems from development in a small group.
I can't recall any difficulty in making the C language definition completely open - any discussion on the matter tended to mention languages whose inventors tried to keep tight control, and consequent ill fate.
My work was fairly theoretical. It was in recursive function theory. And in particular, hierarchies of functions in terms of computational complexity. I got involved in real computers and programming mainly by being - well, I was interested even as I came to graduate school.
C was already implemented on several quite different machines and OSs, Unix was already being distributed on the PDP-11, but the portability of the whole system was new.
At the same time, much of it seems to have to do with recreating things we or others had already done; it seems rather derivative intellectually; is there a dearth of really new ideas?
For infrastructure technology, C will be hard to displace.
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