"How and when did you first come in contact with
"Dennis Ritchie: At some point when I was an
undergraduate in college (about 1960) I went to some non-course
talks about computers that intrigued me, and I signed up for the
regular (introductory) one-term course. The first part was about
analog computers, then a brief bit about punch-card equipment, then
some about real digital computers, in which we prepared a program
for the Univac I. I was an undergraduate Physics major, but began
to intrigued more by both the theory and practice of computing. So
in grad school my thesis work was fairly theoretical (hierarchies
of recursive functions), but I also began to get more into the
practical aspects. I was for three years one of the teaching
assistants for successive versions of that same introductory
course--which by that time had moved to the IBM 7094.
"What do you consider your greatest achievement in the
field of computing to be?
"Dennis Ritchie: The single thing that I'm happiest
about is that the notion of making the Unix system portable was
mostly mine. 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..."