Ken is the most talented programmer computer industry has ever seen. He
wrote Unix, which changed the history of computing. Practical
implementations of hierarchical filesystem, regular expressions,
quicksort, and B (the ancestor of C) are among the things
he brought to the software industry with Unix. It's been an agreed
upon rule in Unix newsgroups for years, that ken (all small
letters and no last name) means Ken Thompson.
Ken is is an orthogonal thinker. He sees things in a different way,
and that is the main reason why not only Unix, but every project he
works on ends up into some sort of innovation or a new concept.
Implementation of unicode in Plan9 (UTF8) and the compiler architecture
he invented for Plan9 are good examples.
Ken usually thinks of solutions for problems other people are yet to
see, and the result is that in the super fast moving world of computer
industry, Unix with 30+ years of age is still rock solid, and almost
all key concepts in modern Unix implementations are still those you can
find in the original design. The design of Plan9 and specially its
underlying protocol 9P gives you an idea what he sees to be the problem
in the future, while he has already moved to Inferno...
Ken joined Bell Labs after finishing his study at UCB in summer 1969,
to work on Multics. Bell Labs withdrawn from the project but Ken
stayed there and started Unix... He was there for more than 31 years,
until he decided to retire in December 2000.
Now he works with Entrisphere on building next generation networking
solutions, while spending more time on flight which is his hobby.
Ken's home page His very
brief home page, with his famous MiG-29 flight report!
Beyond: An Interview with Ken Thompson Interviews with Ken are
Reflections on Trusting
Trust His classic chicken and egg paper.