Jef Raskin

Author, Engineer

Macintosh: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost
63 minutes, 29mb, recorded 2004-01-13
Jef Raskin

Jef Raskin started Apple's Macintosh project, and he wants to set the record straight. He decries mistakes in published accounts of the creation of the Macintosh. For example, he cites the "creation myth" that Apple's computers were built by "college drop-outs and intuitive engineers flying by the seats of their pants." He identifies a phenomenon he calls the "Halo Effect," which "causes every invention to be attributed to the leader, or the most charismatic, or currently most news-worthy member of the group."

Jef blames lazy research, oversimplification, and lack of skepticism for blunders in mainstream media reporting of the history of Apple and Macintosh.

Jef spices his account with anecdotes of square pixels, one-button mice, bit-mapped fonts, and more.

A longtime BayCHI member, Jeff passed away a year after this program, the last of his six BayCHI appearances since 1994.

Jef Raskin (March 9, 1943-February 26, 2005) was born in New York City. He received degrees in mathematics (B.S. 1964) and philosophy (B.A. 1965) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1967 he earned a Master's Degree in Computer Science at Pennsylvania State University. His first computer program, a music program, was part of his master's thesis.

Raskin first met Apple Computer's Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak following the debut of their Apple II personal computer at the first West Coast Computer Faire. Steve Jobs hired his firm, Bannister and Crun, which was named for two characters in the BBC radio comedy The Goon Show, to write the Apple II BASIC Programming Manual. In January 1978 Raskin joined Apple as Manager of Publications. For some time he continued as Director of Publications and New Product Review, and also worked on packaging and other issues.

Raskin left Apple in 1982 and formed Information Appliance, Inc. to implement his original concepts excluded from the Macintosh project.

Raskin was a long-time member of BAYCHI, the Bay-Area Computer-Human Interface group, a professional organization for human-interface designers. At the start of the new millennium, Raskin undertook the building of a new computer interface based on his 30 years of work and research, called The Humane Environment (THE). On January 1, 2005, he renamed it Archy. It is a system incarnating his concepts of the humane interface, by using open source elements.


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Photo: Ron Reisman