We're saddened to learn of the passing of Jef Raskin,
a multi-talented pioneer in computers and interface design who is best
known for originating the Macintosh project at Apple. He died on
Saturday.

While the Macintosh was ultimately the result of contributions and
vision from the large team that evolved, Raskin set out its original
design goals as that team's first member, named the 'McIntosh' for his
favorite apple variety, and originated interface concepts like "click
and drag." He continued to teach and innovate in interface design up to
his death; he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (See the press release from the family.)

Jef Raskin joined Apple as employee number 31 the month I was born. You can read some great anecdotes
about his character at Andy Hertzfeld's Folklore.org. After Apple, he
went on to continue to develop new ideas in interfaces, culminating in
the Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces project which will continue in his absence. A Web-based movie project will document his life.

Here at createdigitalmusic, we're honored by Mr. Raskin's contributions
on a number of levels. One of his greatest loves was music, as a
composer and orchestral soloist, and his unique creativity and spirit
is inseperable from the Macintosh and other computers we know today.
(You can learn about the importance of music to him, as well as see him
playing the recorder, at the movie site.) His vision of a low-cost
computer for the masses that was easy to use
was a major part of making computers accessible for creative
expression, at the very heart of our hopes about computers for music
and other arts. He continued to aggressively push for new change, as a
professor and writer, developing new paradigms for user interfaces long
after the acceptance of the GUI. As we look for new innovations in
interfaces for music, it's moving to note this pioneer who wasn't
afraid to rile others up with new ideas. Condolences to the family and
on behalf of computer users everywhere, Jef, we'll miss you.

  • Guest

    "a low-cost computer for the masses"
    Didn't you say he worked for Apple?

  • Guest

    Yes, of course he did. Your precious Wintel box was just as expensive at the time. (And don't bother imagining cheap Wintel hardware today has a simple explanation.)

  • Guest

    By the way, CDM, thanks for getting the story of his contribution right. So many media outlets willfully make him seem even more important than he was.

  • admin

    As for price: Raskin wanted a much cheaper computer than Apple ultimately shipped. According to Hertzfeld and others (Raskin was long gone at that point) when the original $2499 price came out the whole Mac team was deeply disappointed. It was a case of the corporate decision clashing with the hopes of the people who actually built the technology (a theme that would repeat itself at Apple). Why the higher price tag? Apple wanted a bigger profit margin and needed to fund John Sculley's massive marketing campaign, which, despite critical acclaim for the 1984 'Orwell' ad, failed to sustain sales through the year.

    Price aside, while I think Raskin was significant to the project, the Mac is almost unrecognizable from his original spec: for one thing, he was bitterly opposed to the mouse. He complained again about what a bad idea mice were in Boston at Macworld.

    Then again, I like hearing people who challenge common notions and the status quo, and I believe strongly there's no reason the 1984 Mac should be the beginning and end of UI design.

    Peter
    PS — Apple did have a computer for the masses, which they failed to recognize in 1984. It was the Apple II. The Mac mini, as the cheapest Mac ever, is the first Mac to follow the legacy of the insanely-popular IIe, which, MORE than the IBM PC or the Mac, really launched the computer revolution.

    Okay, now I'm off my soapbox . . . back to neat music gadgets! 8)

  • Guest

    I wouldn't say the Apple II was "for the masses" any more than a PC running DOS unless your only criterion is price. The IIgs was arguable, but by then the horse was out of the barn.