Journal: News & Comment

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
# 11:28:00 AM:

Jef Raskin's battle ends

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I missed this while I was in Victoria over the weekend, but computer interface pioneer Jef Raskin died. He had long been a controversial figure in the industry—while he founded Apple's Macintosh project when working at the company in the late '70s and early '80s, his input into the eventual design (after he left Apple in 1982, two years before the Mac's public release) has been a subject of much dispute (see 1, 2, 3), and a bit of parody as well (4, 5).

He always claimed that he worked tirelessly on improving human-computer interaction, but if you tried some of his subsequent work, from the Canon Cat to the Humane Interface (a.k.a. "Archy"), you might find them clever and interesting—but they're not easy to figure out. For me, none of his later ideas has the eureka feeling of the original Mac.

Raskin wanted the Mac to be an easy-to-use, appliance-like tool for everyone. The high-level concept persisted, even if the eventual implementation was different, perhaps better, and definitely more expensive. So, regardless of the details, we owe Raskin thanks for thinking of us regular people, and helping take us away from pure command-line interfaces into something that allowed pointing, clicking, and dragging—and thus PageMaker, Photoshop, and the Web (of course).


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