Ritchie was born on September 8th, 1941 in Bronxville, New York and graduated from Harvard University with degrees in physics and applied mathematics. His work at Bell Labs began in 1967 and began working with Ken Thompson in 1968. Along with Thompson, Ritchie would develop the C programming language. The operating system was initially written in assembly, by 1973 Unix was almost entirely coded in C. C gave the operating system more flexibility and allowed it to be installed on multiple platforms. Ritchie would later write the definitive textbook on the language with co-author Brian Kernighan, The C Programming Language.
Ritchie and Thompson received the 1983 Turing Award, the 1990 IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, the 1998 National Medal of Technology, and the 2011 Japan Prize for Information and Communications for their pioneering work.