JEF RASKIN, CREATOR OF THE MACINTOSH COMPUTER, DIES AT 61
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Pacifica, CA February 27, 2005--Jef Raskin, a mathematician, orchestral soloist and composer, professor, bicycle racer, model airplane designer, and pioneer in the field of human-computer interactions, died peacefully at home in California on February 26th, 2005 surrounded by his family and loved ones. He had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Jef created the Macintosh computer as employee number 31 at Apple in the early 1980s, revolutionizing computer interface design. Jef invented "click and drag" and many other methods now taken for granted by computer users. He named the Macintosh project after his favorite variety of apple, the McIntosh, modifying the spelling for copyright purposes. Jef's article "Holes in the Histories" <http://jef.raskincenter.org/published/holes.html> addresses some popular misconceptions about the Macintosh Project. Jef strongly believed that computers should make tasks easy for people, not the other way around. For twenty-five more years, his work focused on improving interfaces, culminating in his book, The Humane Interface (Addison-Wesley, 2000). Jef created the Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces (RCHI), <http://www.raskincenter.org>, which will soon release a preview of Archy, a culmination and exemplar of his design principles. Archy redesigns the basic building blocks of computing to demonstrate an entirely new paradigm for computer use. RCHI will continue under the technical leadership of Jef's son, Aza Raskin.
Jef worked until the last days of his life to finish the code for Archy. He told a friend ten days before he died, "When people get a chance to work in Archy and see how much easier it is to do their work, we'll get enormous support." He had completed almost all of the basic work by the time his health took a turn for the worse a few days later.
Jef viewed good design as a moral duty, holding interface designers to the same ethical standards as surgeons. Alluding to Isaac Asimov's first law of robotics, one of Jef's mantras was that "any system shall not harm your content or, through inaction, allow your content to come to harm." Archy implements that principle by making it impossible to permanently lose your work. Archy also replaces mouse movements, which many text editing programs require, with much faster "Leap" keystrokes, reducing the likelihood of carpel tunnel syndrome.
Jef originated the Macintosh project in 1979 despite strong opposition from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and led the effort for the crucial first three years. He left Apple in 1982 to found Information Appliance Inc., where he created the award-winning Canon Cat in pursuit of his vision that a computer should be an easy-to-use tool. Despite the rapid sale of twenty thousand units, Canon terminated the project due to an internal dispute. Some Canon Cat owners report continuing to use their Cats to this day.
After a decade studying cognitive psychology, Jef established a scientific basis for the design of man-machine interfaces, bringing interface design out of the mystic realm of guruism.
In his 2000 book The Humane Interface, Jef coined the term and founded the field of cognetics, "the ergonomics of the mind," transforming interface design into an engineering discipline with a rigorous theoretical framework. His book, translated into more than nine languages, has gone through numerous printings and become the standard text for more than 100 computing courses around the world.
His sculptures have been exhibited at New York's Museum of Modern Art. One is included in the permanent collection.
Jef's life and work are the subject of a documentary in progress, which will continue to gather information and interviews from people who knew him. More information is available at jefthemovie.com. Jef is survived by his wife of 23 years, Linda Blum; his children, Aza, Aviva, and Aenea; and his children in all but name, Jenna and Rebecca. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. For further information, e-mail mailto:Raskin.Press@gmail.com
The Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces