Apple Visionary Jef Raskin Dies at 61


Jan 7, 2002
Jef Raskin, who dreamed up the affordable, user-friendly computer that became Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) Latest News about Apple Macintosh Latest News about Macintosh, died Saturday night at his Pacifica home.

Raskin, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months ago, was 61.

He was employee No. 31 at Apple when he joined in 1978. By the next year, he began to pursue his goal of simplifying the computer user's experience, focusing on a faster and more logical interface. And the computer should sell for under US$1,000.
Clashed with Jobs

He named the project after one of his favorite fruits as a child in Manhattan: the McIntosh apple. The computer's moniker was spelled differently to avoid trademark issues.

He recalled, "I figured if I was going to name an Apple, it might as well be my favorite."

But when he clashed with another Apple visionary, co-founder Steve Jobs, Jobs took over Raskin's team "by fiat," Raskin once said, and he resigned in 1981. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said many of Raskin's groundbreaking user-interface features remained part of the Mac when it was released in 1984 -- at a price of $2,495.

"Jef's dream changed the world," Wozniak said yesterday. "Making technology work simpler, he was at the heart of that from the first days at Apple." Wozniak said Raskin also convinced Jobs to spend time at Xerox (NYSE: XRX) Latest News about Xerox PARC to see how to develop cutting-edge technology. "Jef Raskin is one of the most important people in personal computers, to this day," he added.

Raskin contended over the years that Jobs had taken credit for his work developing the Mac. But most Apple observers credit Jobs for the marketing genius behind the Mac.

Jobs, who himself had surgery last summer for a different, less deadly form of pancreatic cancer, e-mailed and spoke to Raskin in the past few months after his diagnosis, the Raskin family said. Neither Jobs nor Apple could be reached for comment yesterday.