March 17, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 12

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    Adjunct Professor Raskin created Apple’s Macintosh

    Jef Raskin, the man widely recognized as the father of the Macintosh computer and an Adjunct Professor in Computer Science, died Saturday, Feb. 26, at his home in Pacifica, Calif., after being stricken with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

    Raskin revolutionized computer interface design when he created the Macintosh computer at Apple in the early 1980s. “Jef established many methods now taken for granted by computer users, such as ‘click and drag,’” wrote members of the Raskin family in a press statement they issued following his death. “Jef strongly believed that computers should make tasks easy for people, not the other way around.”

    Raskin’s professional relationship to the University began during a family visit to the city more than a year ago. Follow-up discussions quickly ensued regarding the possibility of his teaching a course here. He soon developed a course on humane computer interfaces, which he offered for the first time during the 2004 Spring Quarter, commuting to campus each week from his home in northern California. He was planning to return for the 2005 Spring Quarter.

    “He was interested in building a relationship with the University, and we were excited to have him with us,” said Leo Irakliotis, Director of Professional Programs in Computer Science. “He firmly believed that our interaction with technology—be it computers, elevator panels, automobiles, etcetera, ought to be humane and human-centric. He carried a small digital camera with him to take photos of bad interface examples,” Irakliotis added.

    Raskin was the author of The Humane Interface, published in 2005. Irakliotis referred to it as “the definitive book in computer interfaces.”

    In recent months, Raskin focused much of his energy on completing the development of Archy, a software project inspired by his philosophy of technology. Raskin’s work on Archy will continue at the Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces under the technical leadership of his son, Aza Raskin, a Mathematics and Physics major in the College.