Unix Heros: Celebrating 8 Pioneers to Change Computing Forever

Macbook Unix

The family of Unix operating systems emerged in the late 1970s when Bell Systems made the source code of its technology open to the public. In the subsequent decades, universities, individuals, and corporations developed a multitude of extensions and new versions.

Today, Unix is a trademarked standard that ensures that certain quality standards are met of any operating system that applies for the standard. Unix and Unix-like operating systems have a major impact in the computing world. About two out of free web servers run on a Linux system, which is based on Unix. Most of today’s supercomputers run Unix-based systems. The macOS is also a registered Unix system in 2020. The massive impact of Unix has attracted the best coders in the world to collaborate on improving the operating system continuously. Linus Torvaldis, Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan—the list of Unix-developers contains the names of some of the world’s most impactful coders.

This article gives you a list of famous Unix Developers that forever changed the way computers integrate with our modern-day life.

  1. Ken Thompson
  2. Dennis Ritchie
  3. Joe Ossanna
  4. Douglas McIlroy
  5. Peter Neumann
  6. Rudd Canaday
  7. Brian Kernighan
  8. Michael Lesk

#1 Ken Thompson — Invented Unix

“Kenneth Lane Thompson (born February 4, 1943) is an American pioneer of computer science. Thompson worked at Bell Labs for most of his career where he designed and implemented the original Unix operating system. He also invented the B programming language, the direct predecessor to the C programming language, and was one of the creators and early developers of the Plan 9 operating system. Since 2006, Thompson has worked at Google, where he co-invented the Go programming language.” — source

#2 Dennis Ritchie — Created C Programming Language

“Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (September 9, 1941 – c. October 12, 2011) was an American computer scientist. He created the C programming language and, with long-time colleague Ken Thompson, the Unix operating system and B programming language. Ritchie and Thompson were awarded the Turing Award from the ACM in 1983, the Hamming Medal from the IEEE in 1990 and the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton in 1999.”source

#3 Joe Ossanna — Lay Foundations for Unix

“Joseph Frank Ossanna, Jr. (December 10, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan – November 28, 1977 in Morristown, New Jersey) worked as a member of the technical staff at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He became actively engaged in the software design of Multics (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service), a general-purpose operating system used at Bell.”source

#4 Doug McIlroy — Originally Proposed Unix Pipelines

“Malcolm Douglas McIlroy (born 1932) is a mathematician, engineer, and programmer. As of 2019 he is an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College. McIlroy is best known for having originally proposed Unix pipelines and developed several Unix tools, such as spell, diff, sort, join, graph, speak, and tr.” — source

#5 Peter Neumann — Lay Foundations for Unix

Peter Gabriel Neumann (born 1932) is a computer-science researcher who worked on the Multics operating system in the 1960s. He edits the RISKS Digest columns for ACM Software Engineering Notes and Communications of the ACM. He founded ACM SIGSOFT and is a Fellow of the ACM, IEEE,[4] and AAAS.” — source

#6 Rudd Canaday — Early Unix Developer

Rudd Canaday is a computer systems and software architect and implementer with a long list of significant achievements. After obtaining his Ph.D. from MIT, he spent 25 years at Bell Telephone Labs, all but 5 of those years in research. After Bell Labs he founded three companies to market his software, the last in 2008, and then went to work for a Silicon Valley startup.” — source

#7 Brian Kernighan — Early Unix Developer & Author of First C Programming Book

Brian Wilson Kernighan (/ˈkɜːrnɪhæn/;[6] born January 1, 1942)[1] is a Canadian computer scientist. He worked at Bell Labs and contributed to the development of Unix alongside Unix creators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. Kernighan’s name became widely known through co-authorship of the first book on the C programming language (The C Programming Language) with Dennis Ritchie.” — source

#8 Michael Lesk — Unix Tool Creator

“From 1970 to 1984, Lesk worked at Bell Labs in the group that built Unix. Lesk wrote Unix tools for word processing (tbl, refer, and the standard ms macro package, all for troff), for compiling (Lex), and for networking (uucp). He also wrote the Portable I/O Library (the predecessor to stdio.h in C) and contributed significantly to the development of the C language preprocessor.”source


Bill Gates said that a great programmer can be 10,000 times more productive than an average programmer. How true! These stars on the computer science sky have contributed enormously to the living standards of billions of people worldwide. Thanks! 🤗🚀