Ken Thompson Biography

Kenneth lane Thompson was born on 4th February 1943 in New Orleans Louisiana, U.S. He is a computer scientist. Thompson worked for a long time at Bell Labs. He designed the original Unix operating system and also implemented it while working at bell labs. Thompson was the co-winner of the Turing award in 1983. He is famous for his work on Unix operating system.

Education and Personal Life

Thompson completed his bachelor’s in 1965 and master’s in 1966 from the University of California, Berkeley. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.

Ken Thompson is married and he has a son also.

NameKenneth lane Thompson
Birth4th February 1943
BirthplaceNew Orleans Louisiana, U.S.
EducationBachelor’s degree in Sciences (1965) and Master’s Degree (1966)
FieldsComputer Science

Career and Research

Thompson started work in Bell labs in 1966. Thompson and Dennis Ritchie worked together on Multics operating system at Bell labs. At that time Thompson created a Programming language named Bon. Space travel (a video game) was also created by him. Multics operating system is funded by Advanced Research Projects Agency and developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology including Bell labs and General electric co. Later the parent company (AT & T Corporation) of Bell labs withdrew from the Multics project.

He started developing a more flexible operating system for PDP-7 a mini-computer. After a few months, Thompson and Ritchie created Unix. Unix’s name was suggested by Brian Kernighan. In 1970 Thompson invented the B Programming language for Unix with some help from Dennis Ritchie.

Thompson and Robb Pike developed UTF-8 together in 1992. Thompson continued research with Ritchie at Bell labs. Thompson retired from Bell Labs in the year 2000 and started work at Intrisphere. Now Thompson working at Google as a renowned engineer.

When someone asked him how he learned to program then Thompson said that he was always fascinated with logic and even in grade school he had worked on arithmetic problems in binary.


  1. Thompson was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for making Unix (An operating system) in
    the year 1980.
  2. Thompson was elected the Member of the National Academy of Science in 1985.
  3. Thompson was the co-winner of the Turing Award in the year 1983.
  4. Thompson received the IEEE Richard W. Hamming medal from the Institute of Electricals and Electronics Engineers in 1990.
  5. Thompson and Ritchie got the National Medal of Technology in the year 1999 for inventing the
    Unix operating system and C language.
  6. Ken Thompson received Tsutomu Kanai Award from the Institute of Electricals and Electronics Engineers in 1999.
  7. Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were awarded the Japan Prize for Information and communication in the year 2011 for developing the Unix operating system.

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