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Inventing Unix

An interview with Dennis Ritchie

4 min read

26 May 2011—Back in January, when the Japan Prize Foundation announced its 2011 awards, Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson were recognized for the development of Unix, and Tadamitsu Kishimoto and Toshio Hirano were honored for the discovery of interleukin-6.

The awards ceremony is normally held in Japan, but on 17 March, the foundation announced that the event would be moved to the United States because of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. The awards were held on 19 May at the Bell Labs headquarters in Murray Hill, N.J. Ritchie and Thompson developed Unix while working at that lab, which is now part of the French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent. Thompson is now a distinguished engineer at Google; Ritchie is still affiliated with Bell Labs with the title "Distinguished Member of Technical Staff Emeritus." Besides his role in the development of Unix, Ritchie also invented the C programming language.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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