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You can make a huge list of important people, inventors, scientists, explorers, painters, etc... but most people will only recognize the likes of Brad Pitt, Rihanna (who has at least 10 US number one hits vs 0 for Depeche Mode, go figure) or the current boy band.
Would anyone recognize Nikola Tesla? Or Isaac Newton? Or even heard of them or what they did?
Dennis Ritchie earned his place in history, but he wasn't in a boy band. Nor was Steve Jobs, but he got much more media attention during his live and lots of people use Apple products and while Steve was in charge Apple and Steve were basically the same thing.
Mention Ritchie and people don't know him. Mention C and it still doesn't ring a bell (pun intended), mention UNIX and some people may ask if that wasn't something like DOS where you had to type stuff.
More people know what Britney Spears had for breakfast than people know Dennis Ritchie.