Friends gather to remember Brian Howard, member of Apple’s original Macintosh team

“When Brian Howard’s friends gather to remember him Saturday they will have plenty of material,” Mike Cassidy reports for The San Jose Mercury News.

“Sure, Howard was on the Apple team that designed the original Macintosh. But it wasn’t just the cutting-edge technology that he worked on that placed him among those who helped define Silicon Valley,” Cassidy reports. “It was the way he worked on it – at times work-obsessed, but still able to find time to play Renaissance-era instruments, sing in a Gregorian choir and take his wife square-dancing.”

Cassidy reports, “Howard died this month at 65, after more than two years of battling cancer. Where will his friends start when they memorialize an eclectic person of such accomplishment?”

Full article with plenty about the early days of the Mac – highly recommended – here.

Read more about Brian Howard via Folklore.org here.

MacDailyNews Take: Our condolences to Mr. Howard’s family and friends.

7 Comments

  1. Apple hired Howard and Jef Raskin in 1978 to write technical manuals, but the pair were soon refining Raskin’s vision of a low-cost, easy-to-use computer aimed at consumers. They were initially joined by Burrell Smith and Bud Tribble and eventually by dozens of others.

    It was the start of a vibrant chapter of the valley’s history that helped cast the mold for much of what was to follow. The Mac team, which grew month by month, was a crew of young and brilliant technologists who dressed in T-shirts and jeans and set out to stage a revolution.
    “I think they all felt they were changing the world,” says Howard’s wife, Lynne Toribara, who met Howard in 1971 after he’d graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering. “At the beginning, when it was a startup company, I think he was there all the time.”

    Howard worked closely with Smith on early Mac hardware, hand-wiring some of the prototypes’ first logic boards. He had an uncanny ability, says Hertzfeld, now a Google software engineer, to take Smith’s ideas and communicate them to the rest of the team in a clear, concise way.

    Bob Bailey, a senior engineer at Apple, says he saw Howard reprise the role of translator among design teams countless times in the 25 years they worked together on the Mac line.

    “He would go around to the different projects,” Bailey says, “and he would assimilate what it was that they wanted so there would be some sort of common fabric.”

    It might have been Howard’s people skills, as much as his technical instincts, that helped make the Mac what it became. Raskin, who died in 2005, left the Mac project in 1981, after a falling out with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs then took charge of the project. Maybe you’ve heard that Apple’s now-CEO can be difficult, harsh in his criticism, unforgiving. Howard could be a buffer, a stabilizing force, Hertzfeld says.

    “He specialized in working with people who were creative geniuses, but difficult. Jef, Burrell, Steve are all very passionate, very creative, but difficult people. But Brian was just sweet and kind to everyone.”

    The rest from another write up here:
    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/02/24/2560783/friends-gather-to-remember-a-member.html

  2. I started on the MacIntosh project in 1982 and was immediately impressed with Brian’s eye for technical detail and thoroughness. He had that unique ability to be both technical and easy to work with, which was quite unique in that type A personality environment. He was instrumental in shadowing and detailing the documentation around Burrell’s hardware innovation. An angel amongst us.

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