Jef Raskin, the man who pioneered the original Macintosh computer project, has died at the age of 61.

Jeffrey Frank Raskin was suffering from pancreatic cancer. He died on Saturday night.

Raskin started as manager of Apple's Publications department when he joined the company as employee number 31 in 1978. By 1979, he had started designing a radically new kind of computer, focusing on human factors rather than technical specifications.

A frequent visitor to the XeroxPARC research facility, Raskin initiated Apple's famous visit to the labs where innovations such as the graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer and the mouse were lying dormant until adapted for Apple's Lisa and Macintosh computers.

Apple co-founder (and now CEO) Steve Jobs initially hated Raskin's proposal for a computer for the "person in the street". But after he was kicked off the Lisa project, Jobs joined and then took over Raskin's Macintosh project – turning it into a fully fledged product-development effort. Raskin resigned.

As Owen Linzmayer, author of the acclaimed 'Apple Confidential 2.0', wrote in the January 2004 special Mac 20th Anniversary issue of Macworld: " The Mac that shipped in 1984 differed greatly from Raskin's prototypes, but the underlying goal of elegant simplicity was retained and became the hallmark of all Apple products."