The Passing of Jef Raskin

It is with sadness that I make this post. Jef Raskin, pioneer of user interface design, Apple employee #31, and the man who started the Macintosh project at Apple in 1979, died this past weekend of pancreatic cancer. He was a visionary and all around swell guy, and he will indeed be missed.

Although the Macintosh is currently Apple’s flagship product and known worldwide, Raskin’s original vision for the machine was very different than what ultimately was released as Macintosh. Raskin Macintosh, which he named after his “favorite eatin’ apple,” was to be a simple, 6809-based machine with an intelligent, intuitive, text-based display which could serve as “a computer for everyone.” When Steve Jobs took the reins of the Macintosh project, it was transformed into a Lisa-like personal computer with more horsepower and a graphical user interface. Raskin’s Canon Cat, released in 1987, was more akin to his original Macintosh vision than what Jobs and the Macintosh team ultimately delivered.

Jef Raskin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2004 and died at the age of 61 on Saturday February 26th, 2005 in Pacifica, California. My condolences go out to Jef’s family, friends, and the rest of us who lament his passing.

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