On Saturday 24 January 2009, when Apple and all the world’s Macintosh enthusiasts will be celebrating the Mac’s 25th anniversary, spare a thought for one man who would have been celebrating it's 30th.
That man was Jeffrey Frank “Jef” Raskin, the true father of the Macintosh. Raskin, a professor turned computer consultant, wrote the Integer BASIC manual for the Apple II in 1976. When he joined Apple on January 3, 1978 (exactly one year after its incorporation), as employee #31, the 34-year-old Raskin was manager of the publications department. Over time he started a new product review division and an application software division.
In the spring of 1979, chairman Mike Markkula asked Raskin if he would work on a project code-named Annie, the goal of which was to produce a $500 game machine (shades of the ill-fated Bandai/Apple Pippin). At the time, Jobs and cohorts were working on the business-oriented Lisa project, and the company felt it needed a lower-cost product than the Apple II, which was selling for well over $1,000 in a basic configuration without a disk drive or monitor.
“I told him it was a fine project, but I wasn’t terribly interested in a game machine,” remembers Raskin. “However, there was this thing that I’d been dreaming of for some time, which I called Macintosh. The biggest thing about it was that it would be designed from a human factors perspective, which at that time was totally incomprehensible.” Markkula was intrigued and asked Raskin to elaborate on his ideas and investigate the feasibility of putting them into practice.
By late May, Raskin had sketched out the basic ideas behind a computer for the “Person in the Street,” known as the PITS, for short. Raskin had grown increasingly frustrated at the complexity of the Apple II. Its open architecture was good in the sense that you could fill its slots with anything you wanted, but that flexibility forced the user to be a pseudo-technician and made it extremely difficult for developers to create products that worked with all configurations.
“Considerations such as these led me to conceive the basic architecture and guiding principles of the Mac,” explains Raskin. “There were to be no peripheral slots so that customers never had to see the inside of the machine (although external ports would be provided); there was a fixed memory size so that all applications would run on all Macintoshes; the screen, keyboard, and mass-storage device (and, we hoped, a printer) were to be built-in so that the customer got a truly complete system, and so that we could control the appearance of characters and graphics.”
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