Jef Raskin

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Jef Raskin (March 9, 1943 — February 26, 2005) was an American human-computer interface expert best known for starting the Macintosh project for Apple in the late 1970s.


Early years and education

Raskin was born in New York City. He received degrees in mathematics (B.S. 1964) and philosophy (B.A. 1965) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1967 he earned a master's degree in computer science at Pennsylvania State University. His first computer program, a music program, was part of his master's thesis.

Raskin later enrolled in a graduate music program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), but stopped to teach art, photography and computer science there, working as an assistant professor from 1970 until 1974. He occasionally wrote for computer publications, such as Dr. Dobb's Journal.

Career at Apple

Raskin first met Apple Computer's Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak following the debut of their Apple II personal computer at the first West Coast Computer Faire. Steve Jobs hired his firm, Bannister and Crun, which was named for two characters in the BBC radio comedy The Goon Show,[1] to write the Apple II BASIC Programming Manual. In January 1978 Raskin joined Apple as Manager of Publications, the company's 31st employee. For some time he continued as Director of Publications and New Product Review, and also worked on packaging and other issues.

From his responsibility for documentation and testing, Raskin had great influence on early engineering projects. Because the Apple II only displayed uppercase characters on a 40-column screen, his department used the Polymorphic Systems 8813 (an Intel-8080-based machine running CP/M), to write documentation; this spurred the development of an 80-column display card and a suitable text editor for the Apple II. His experiences testing Applesoft BASIC inspired him to design a competing product, called Notzo BASIC, which was never implemented. When Steve Wozniak developed the first disk drives for the Apple II, Raskin went back to his contacts at UCSD and encouraged them to port the UCSD P-System operating system (incorporating a version of the Pascal programming language) to it, which Apple later licensed and shipped as Apple Pascal.

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