Skip to comments.Jef Raskin, Mac interface expert, dies at 61
Posted on 02/27/2005 3:22:19 PM PST by newzjunkey
Jef Raskin, the human-computer interface expert largely credited with beginning the Macintosh project for Apple Computer, died Saturday at age 61.
Raskin, the author of The Humane Interface, died of cancer, according to a man who answered the telephone Sunday at Raskin's Pacifica, Calif., home.
Raskin joined Apple in January 1978 as employee No. 31, but left the company in 1982 amid a well-documented dispute with Steve Jobs. The Macintosh was launched in 1984.
Reskin was an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, and a visiting scholar at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the 1970s when he first visited Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). (Apple is often accused of copying Xerox's graphical user interface--GUI--into the Macintosh operating system).
"When PARC was in its first few years I was often a visiting academic there, taking part in discussions and viewing with delight some of the developments going on there; I trust that people there also took pleasure in finding in me someone who was already on much the same user-interface wavelength," Raskin later wrote. "I didn't have to be sold on the idea that UI and graphics were of primary importance to the future of computing."
Raskin said he told Jobs and Steve Wozniak about what he had seen at Xerox the first time he met them in their garage in 1976, and that he stopped visiting Xerox when he went to work for Apple "to avoid any possible conflicts of interest."
Raskin reportedly left Apple after Jobs increasingly muscled in on the Macintosh project.
After leaving Apple, Raskin designed Canon Cat, a small computer with a text-based user interface that did not make use of either a mouse, icons or graphics. Some blamed poor marketing on the part of Canon USA for the computer's short life.
In later years, Raskin worked on The Humane Environment, a system incorporating his interface concepts with open-source elements within a Zooming User Interface.
Raskin earned bachelor's degrees in mathematics and philosophy from the State University of New York and a master's degree in computer science from the Pennsylvania State University.
It must be made clear Raskin's biggest contribution to Apple was being an evangelist for the notion of bitmap interfaces, rather than a character generator text interface like Apple's classic personal computers and the later IBM PC. He named the project for the McIntosh apple, the spelling was altered for business reasons, but the final product, and it's immediately predessor, the Apple Lisa, had little resemblence to Raskin's vision.
Those projects and what the public at large understands as Macintosh was much the work of other faces, several brought over from Xerox PARC.
The Canon CAT:
And what happened to Steve Wozniak?
Very appropriate graphic.
May he rest in peace
being a Californian, did you look up the stuff on Raskin, or was u there?
Although not involved in Apple, I was there and met Jef, along with Jobs and Woz, several times each at various events, starting at the First West Coast Computer Faire in San Jose, in 1977. I left the Bay Area around 1982 but am still in the business, on the corporate side (I've "got" 35,000 PCs, oh joy).
Of the three, Woz, Jobs and Raskin, I enjoyed talking with Rasking the most, but hearing Jobs give a presentation the most.
I can hear the Chimes.
That's too bad.
Cancer's a rough way to die, and he was kinda young.
A shame. He was a talented man.
Deepest condolences to his family.
One of the kinda nutty ideas Raskin had -- and which made it into the original Mac, but was soon abandoned -- was the lack of cursor keys. The expansion card product Raskin manufactured for the Apple II didn't use or recognize the II's existing cursor keys, even though it was a word processor (in all but name), and the Canon Cat had this same curious deficiency.
Thanks for the ping.
Re:radical, but not new (Score:5, Interesting)
by binaryDigit (557647) on Wednesday January 26, @10:59AM (#11480678)
Then Jeff partnered with the Cannon [ copier ] company with the CAT-PC.
Yes, I have one, it's an interesting beast. It wasn't so much that the disk was a giant piece of text, what you did was save the entire state of the computers memory onto the floppy. If you wanted to start a new document, then you would simply plop in a blank floppy. The whole thing was written in Forth and there is an "easter egg" that allows you to get direct access to the Forth interpreter.
However the most "novel" thing about it was how you navigated. It didn't use a pointing device (i.e. mouse) but used two dedicated keys on the keyboards labeled "JUMP" (you'll have to forgive me, it's been a while since I've had it out and played with it, so this might not be perfectly correct). You would use the jump keys to "hop" around the document/screen.
There was also an add-in card made for the Apple II that was basically a Cat on a card. If anyone knows of one of these, please let me know. There was also one laptop made, but Jef himself has it and he's not giving it up (or at least wasn't when I asked him about it a few years ago).
more Canon Cat:
Canon's Cat Computer: The Real Macintosh
more Raskin bio:
The Apple II product was the Swyftcard, from Jef Raskin's Information Appliance company. It preceded the Swyft standalone product (which, now that I see it, I recall from advertisements of Joseph Sugarman & Associates, "Products that Think":
Swyft Card for the Apple II
"Even then, what Raskin wanted wasn't so much a Mac as an "information appliance" that ordinary people would be able to use without learning computing. He went on to develop the SwyftCard - a document processor on an expansion card that plugged into an Apple II - which was launched in 1985. ("Swyft" meant something like "Superb With Your Favorite Typing".)"