jraskin.jpgJef Raskin, an author, educator and computer interface expert who was known as the “Father of the Macintosh,” died on Feb. 26 of cancer. He was 61.
The New York native studied mathematics and philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and earned a master’s degree in computer science at Pennsylvania State University. He enrolled in the graduate music program at the University of California at San Diego, then spent four years teaching art, photography and computer science there.
In 1978, Apple hired Raskin to run its publications department. At the time, computers were mostly used by scientists and academics, but Raskin believed the machines should make tasks easier for ordinary people to use. With this vision in mind, he assembled the initial development team that created the first Macintosh computer, which was named after Raskin’s favorite variety of apple. He wrote the manual for the Apple II, pioneered the use of the word “font” and helped invent the “click and drag” method of manipulating icons on the screen.
But when the first Macintosh debuted in 1984, Raskin was no longer with the company. In fact, he’d quit two years earlier after his relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs went sour.
Raskin later designed the Canon Cat, a small computer that used a text-based user interface, and published the landmark computer book, “The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems.” He also wrote and/or edited for Forbes ASAP, Wired, Mac Home Journal, Pacifica Tribune and Model Airplane News. In recent years, Raskin worked on The Humane Environment, a revolutionary software system that incorporates open source elements with his own user interface concepts.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR
Listen to an Interview With Raskin