Artifact Details


Dennis M. Ritchie papers

Catalog Number







Ritchie, Dennis M.


11.96 linear feet in 9 record cartons, 1 half manuscript, and 1 flat box


The Dennis M. Ritchie papers range in date from 1959 to 2011 and hold materials related to Ritchie’s college and graduate education, his career at Bell Laboratories, and his work on Unix and the C programming language. Types of materials include course materials, program listings, manuals, technical reports, memos, presentation materials, conference proceedings, books, photographs, and software.

The earliest portion of the papers consists of materials related to Ritchie’s education, ranging in date from 1959 to 1967. This part of the collection includes class notes, course materials, reference materials, and subject files on topics like programming and set theory. There is also a copy of Ritchie’s dissertation, as well as some reports and manuals related to the MIT Computing Center and Project MAC.

The papers hold a significant amount of materials collected over the course of Ritchie’s career at Bell Laboratories and later, Lucent Technologies, beginning in 1967 and continuing through 2011. There are internal documents, such as memos, organizational charts, pictorial directories of Bell Labs staff research and patents, and presentation materials. Additionally, there are binders of Unix program listings as well as documentation related to BCPL, Fortran, Algol, Plan 9, Bon (a computer language by Ken Thompson), and other projects that Ritchie and his colleagues worked on at Bell Labs. This portion of the collection also holds manuals and journals published by Bell Laboratories. For example, there are editions 1 through 7 of Unix Programmer’s Guide, various other manuals for Unix, and manuals for Plan 9 and Inferno. There are also some issues of Bell Labs Technical Journal from the 1980s and 1990s. Throughout this portion of the collection, there are also materials related to Ritchie’s career in general, such as presentations on the history of the C programming language, documentation related to awards won by Ritchie, and clippings related to his work.

The other half of the papers consists of various published materials, mainly conference proceedings, books, and reference manuals. These include about thirty different copies of The C Programming Language, which Ritchie wrote with Brian Kernighan, translated into a number of languages. There are also reference books on languages such as SNOBOL4 and AWK as well as reference manuals for topics like the Unix research system and ANSA (Advanced Networked Systems Architecture). Also included are an incomplete run of conference proceedings from USENIX ranging in date from 1985 to 2000 as well as proceedings from a 1988 EUUG (European Unix systems User Group) conference and a 1989 AUUGN (Australian Unix systems User Group Newsletter) conference. This portion of the collection also holds copies of journals like “The Journal of C Language Translation” and “The NSA Technical Journal,” as well as technical reports from universities such as the University of New South Wales and Carnegie-Mellon University. There are also a small amount of periodicals.

Finally, there is a small amount of software on CD and 3.5 inch floppy disks ranging in date from 1988 to 2000, most of which is related to Inferno, Plan 9, and Unix, as well as a small number of audiocassettes. There are also about 60 35mm slides, most of which are presentation slides, and a CD of digital photographs from the Japan Prize ceremony in 2011. Additionally, there are two photo albums as well as several envelopes of prints from Ritchie’s personal life and travels.


Collection Record


AT & T Bell Laboratories; Bell Telephone Laboratories; C (Computer program language); Lucent Technologies; Ritchie, Dennis M., 1941-2011; UNIX (Computer file)

Collection Title

Dennis M. Ritchie papers


Gift of Dennis Ritchie

Lot Number