jbrodkin writes "The inventors of Unix and the C programming language, one of whom also created the first master-level chess-playing machine, have been awarded the prestigious Japan Prize for their work in building the Unix operating system in 1969. Ken Thompson, who is now a distinguished engineer at Google, and Dennis Ritchie, who is retired, were researchers at Bell Labs four decades ago when they 'developed the Unix operating system which has significantly advanced computer software, hardware and networks over the past four decades, and facilitated the realization of the Internet,' the Japan Prize Foundation said Tuesday in awarding them the 2011 prize. The pair join previous winners such as Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee. In addition to developing Unix, Thompson also played a key role in building Belle, the first chess-playing computer to achieve a master-level rating and five-time winner of the now-defunct North American Computer Chess Championship in the 1970s and 1980s. Ritchie and Thompson have also been credited with developing the C programming language, a process that occurred in conjunction with the development of Unix."