Ken Thompson

"I was always fascinated with logic and even in grade school I'd work on arithmetic problems in binary, stuff like that. Just because I was fascinated."

Picture of Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie 1973
Ken Thompson (left) with Dennis Ritchie


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. Other notable contributions included his work on regular expressions and early computer text editors QED and ed, the definition of the UTF-8 encoding, and his work on computer chess that included the creation of endgame tablebases and the chess machine Belle. He won the Turing Award in 1983 with his long-term colleague Dennis Ritchie.

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