Jef Raskin, a computer interface expert who conceived Apple Computer Inc.'s groundbreaking Macintosh computer but left the company before it came to market, has died. He was 61.
Mr. Raskin died on February 26 at his home in Pacifica, CA, U.S. In December, he told friends he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Raskin joined Apple in 1978 — as its 31st employee — to start the young company's publications department. At the time, computers were primarily text-based and users had to remember a series of arcane commands to perform the simplest tasks.
In 1979, he had a different idea: A computer that's priced affordably, targeted at consumers and extremely easy to use. A small team, under his command, was put together at Apple to pursue his concept that would eventually become the Macintosh.
"His role on the Macintosh was the initiator of the project, so it wouldn't be here if it weren't for him," said Andy Hertzfeld, an early Mac team member.
Mr. Raskin, who worked as a computer science professor before joining Apple, was well aware of the research being done in computer interfaces at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. He worked to bring it to the attention of Apple executives.
"Jef was incredibly enthusiastic about what he saw at Xerox PARC," said Dave Burstein, who is working on a film about Raskin's life.
Mr. Raskin also named the Macintosh after his favorite apple, though the name was slightly changed because of a trademark issue with another company.
Mr. Raskin led the project until the summer of 1981, when he reportedly had a falling out with Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder. He left the company entirely the following year.
After leaving Cupertino, CA, U.S.-based Apple, Mr. Raskin founded another computer company, Information Appliance, and designed another computer that incorporated his ideas. He also wrote a book, "The Humane Interface," which was published in 2000.
Raskin continued to work on software that incorporates his ideas on interfaces. The first release is scheduled to take place in the next few months, Mr. Burstein said. (The Associated Press)
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