Two men died in the past ten days.
The first was a college dropout who stole the idea of a GUI from Xerox to create his own GUI-based OS which, till date, hasn't found popularity. He then got fired from his own company due to his obnoxious and headstrong decision making. A decade later he was called back to this company and revolutionized the technology industry with the iPod and the iPhone.
He was Steve Jobs. The ex-CEO of Apple Computers.
Within hours of his death, the Internet was alive with the news. From Apple fanboys who claimed they felt like losing a family member, to Google and Microsoft who set aside rivalry and paid tribute on their respective web pages, everyone had just one thing to say: the world had lost a visionary.
And as with all topics discussed on Facebook these days, be it Anna Hazare or ZNMD, either you speak with the majority or you are an insensitive and evil idiot. So everyone agreed that Steve Jobs was a great innovator who changed the life of mankind for the better. Everyone seemed to forget that the thing that the man was really good at was selling stuff. He built a business empire out of selling things that were, to a large extent, inferior to competing products and costlier at the same time. Yet, his products sold more and he managed to gather quite a fan following.
He was not a nice man. He never shared a penny of his earnings with the poor like Bill Gates did, he liked to have complete control over all the devices that Apple sold, and he hated criticism. I never liked his business policies. However, I admired his ability to see a market where none existed before, and the ability to tell people what they needed even before they knew they needed it. Even then, I did not appreciate the hype following his death. And that hype seems even more inappropriate and embarrassing now in view of how the second death was reported.
A friend's status update on Facebook on the 12th of October told me about the death of Dennis Ritchie. I searched for a news report on Google and did not find a single proper English news site reporting it. The few (less than five) search results that did show up were forum discussions. Wikipedia, however, seemed to confirm that Dennis Ritchie had died on... the 8th of October 2011.
He died four days earlier, and not a single media mention! Who was this guy anyway?
Dennis Ritchie built the C language. And he was the co-developer of the UNIX operating system. Those two things together make up nearly everything that we see around us in the computing world today, and definitely all of the Internet. As this article discusses, the two operating systems that Steve Jobs built his business empire over - the MacOS X and the iOS - were both derived from UNIX. Bill Gates built his business empire over Microsoft Windows which was written in C originally, and today all of the Internet runs on programs that were either written in C or written in languages derived from C. And while Gates and Jobs went on to become the richest men on the planet selling their respective operating systems, Ritchie's operating system formed the basis of the open source software movement.
Sir Isaac Newton once said, "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Dennis Ritchie was the giant on whose shoulders Steve Jobs stood. He was the giant on whose shoulders we are standing even now. Five days after his death. With hardly any media mention. The world doesn't even know who he was.
Steve Jobs got mentioned in millions of tweets. Fine! He earned them. But please, people, spare a little thought for the man who was behind it all.
Rest in peace Dr. Ritchie. You were the man who made me fall in love with programming.
 It now seems he died on the 12th of October 2011. But the fact that Wikipedia reported the wrong date initially only enforces my point.