Jef Raskin (March 9, 1943 – February 26, 2005) was an American human–computer interface expert best known for conceiving and starting the Macintosh project for Apple in the late 1970s.
Raskin was born in New York City to a secular Jewish family. (The surname "Raskin" is a matronymic from "Raske", Yiddish nickname for Rachel.) He received a BA in mathematics and a BS in physics with minors in philosophy and music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1967, he received a master's degree in computer science (after switching from mathematical logic due to differences of opinion with his advisor) from Pennsylvania State University. Even though he had completed work for his PhD, the university was not accredited for a PhD in computer science. His first computer program, a music program, was part of his master's thesis.
Raskin later enrolled in a graduate music program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), but stopped to teach art, photography and computer science there, working as an assistant professor in the Visual Arts dept from 1968 until 1974. He was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to establish a Computer and Humanities center which used a 16 bit Data General Nova computer and graphic display terminals rather than the teletypes which were in use at that time. Along with his undergraduate student Jonathan (Jon) Collins, Jef developed the Flow Programming Language for use in teaching programming to the art and humanities students. The language was first used at the Humanities Summer Training Institute held in 1970 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. The language had only 6 instructions (get it, print it, print "text", jump to, if it is ' ' then & stop) and could not manipulate numbers. The language utilized "typing amplification" in which only the first letter was typed and the computer provided the balance of the instruction eliminating typing errors. It was also the basis for programming classes taught by Jef and Jon in the UCSD Visual Arts Dept. He curated several art shows including one featuring his collection of unusual toys. It was during this period that Jef changed the spelling of his name from Jeff to Jef after meeting Jon and liking the lack of extraneous letters...
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