“It’s essential to keep those people who know a thing can’t be done from bothering the people who are doing it”

If you want to do great things and do seemingly-impossible feats, keep those who say things can’t be done away from those who are trying to prove them wrong.

You don’t put a man on the moon by listening to those who say its impossible. You let those who dream big take the lead. Those who have the audacity to think the unthinkable can be done are the ones who will do the unthinkable — the impossible.

Dennis Ritchie, the creator of C, the most influential programming language ever developed, has died. C showed what many thought couldn’t be done, could be done.

There was no such thing as a general-purpose program that was both portable across a variety of hardware and also efficient enough to compete with custom code written for just that hardware. Fortran did okay for array-oriented number-crunching code, but nobody could do it for general-purpose code such as what you’d use to build just about anything down to, oh, say, an operating system.

So this young upstart whippersnapper comes along and decides to try to specify a language that will let people write programs that are: (a) high-level, with structures and functions; (b) portable to just about any kind of hardware; and (c) efficient on that hardware so that they’re competitive with handcrafted nonportable custom assembler code on that hardware. A high-level, portable, efficient systems programming language.

How silly. Everyone knew it couldn’t be done.

C is a poster child for why it’s essential to keep those people who know a thing can’t be done from bothering the people who are doing it.

C is still widely used today. Decedents C++, C# and Objective-C are three of the most popular programming languages available today. That last one, Objective-C, just so happens to be the programming language that powers iOS and OS X development.

Hat tip Daring Fireball.


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