The man who named Apple’s Macintosh, GUI pioneer Jef Raskin dies at 61

The Digibarn Computer Museum reports that Jef Raskin, human-computer interface expert who began the Macintosh project for Apple Computer died on Saturday, February 26th, 2005. Raskin was born March 9, 1943.

David Warlick, in his Digital Divide Network blog, reports that Raskin, who named the Macintosh after his personal favorite fruit, died of cancer.

“I named it for my favorite kind of eatin’ apple, the succulent McIntosh (I changed the spelling of the name to avoid potential conflict with McIntosh, the audio equipment manufacturer).”Jef Raskin, April 11, 1996

Jef Raskin was the human-computer interface expert who began the Macintosh project for Apple Computer and was the author of The Humane Interface, which in large part builds on his earlier work with the Canon Cat. Raskin received a B.S. Mathematics and B.A. in Philosophy from the State University of New York and an M.S. in Computer Science from the Pennsylvania State University. As an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), he taught classes ranging from computer science to photography.

Raskin joined Apple in January 1978 as the 31st employee. He later hired his former student Bill Atkinson from UCSD to work at Apple, and began the Macintosh project. He was credited with the decision to use a one-button mouse as part of the Apple interface, a departure from the Xerox PARC standard of a three-button mouse. He has since stated that were he to redesign the interface, he would have used a two button mouse.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Raskin undertook the building of The Humane Environment (THE). THE is a system incarnating his concepts of the humane interface, by using open source elements within his rendition of a ZUI or Zooming User Interface. (source:

More about Jef Raskin here.

[Attribution: O’Grady’s Power Page]

MacDailyNews Take: Raskin was truly a very interesting modern-day Renaissance man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.


  1. A true loss; My heart goes out to all of his friends and family. He was on my short list of “people I would love to have a long conversation with”.

    Magic Word “life”

  2. I always got the impression that Jef was a little stuck up whenever he’d talk about the Mac or his influence on User Interfaces, but his involvement in starting the Macintosh project at Apple was, IMO, one of the biggest moments in computer history. If you get a chance to, go to and read the stories there. It will be a nice way to remember his impact in the world of computers. He will be missed.

  3. Don’t know too much about Jeff but everytime I heard about him, he was saying something to bash the current state of the Machintosh and OS X. While alive I couldn’t say I liked him, but would have never wished Death upon him, I would actually would have liked to see what he was about to come up with, maybe the computer interface could have been more advanced! you know what competition does. Rest in peace, your place in history will live on forever

  4. How tragic! I still have emails from him (yes, he’s one of those folks who actually write back!) concerning THE and other matters. I’d told him next time I was in NoCal I’d drop by and say hi…. Guess I should have done it earlier!

    Very sad indeed…..

  5. While one is (or should be) saddened by the death of anyone not completely evil, it’s frustrating to see the headlines. If Jef Raskin has gotten his way, the macintosh would have been the canon pet, and we know how successful that one. Jef Raskin quit Apple of the direction the Mac project took and the computer we all love today would not exist if the self proclaimed “father of the macintosh” had actually run the project.

  6. What’s frustrating about the MDN headline, Paco, if anything? It doesn’t say “Father of the Mac” or anything like that. I think it’s just right. Raskin did name the Mac and he was a “GUI pioneer.” Or are you just upset that Raskin’s death is generating headlines?

    Jef Raskin R.I.P.

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