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Mac creator ridicules OS X as a mess

Published 
21 Oct 2004

Jeff Raskin, the man who conceived the Macintosh, has described its latest iterations as a 'mess' in an interview with The Guardian. His comments echo those in a recent interview with Macuser (reproduced below).

Jeff Raskin, the man who conceived the Macintosh, has described its latest iterations as a 'mess' in an interview with The Guardian. His comments echo those in a recent interview with Macuser (reproduced below).

In The Guardian Raskin says, 'the Mac is now a mess. A third party manual is nearly 1,000 pages, and far from complete. Apple now does development by accretion, and there is only a little difference between using a Mac and a Windows machine.'

He acknowledges Apple's accomplishments in design, he argues that the OS lets it down: 'the interface needs fixing. One only cares about getting something done. Apple has forgotten this key concept. The beautiful packaging is ho-hum and insignificant in the long run.'

MacUser interview 11 June 2004

Jef Raskin: the man who should be king

If you thought Apple CEO Steve Jobs was the driving force behind the first Mac, think again - the original concept was the brainchild of Jef Raskin. Raskin officially joined Apple as employee number 31 in 1978 as director of publications. In 1976, prior to this position, he was responsible for writing the manual for the Apple II, and the format he developed for this went on to become an industry standard.

Raskin's concept was for a powerful, affordable and easy-to-use computer that people with little computer knowledge wouldn't be able to live without. He felt software was key to the whole user experience and it needed to co-exist seamlessly with the user; in essence, the screen had to mimic a piece of paper and be as simple to use. As well as the initial idea, the project needed a name. Raskin disliked Apple's trend of using women's names as codenames, a practice he considered sexist, so he chose the name of his favourite type of apple instead, the Macintosh.

Once the name and vision were in place, a small team of engineers began assembling what would become 'the computer for the rest of us'. As the Macintosh project was an underground operation, engineers had to beg, steal and borrow components from other divisions in Apple. This hand-to-mouth existence meant new ways around long-standing issues had to be thrashed out. Indeed, the team managed to solve problems that the much better-resourced Lisa team had taken years to accomplish.

However, competition with Apple's Lisa division was the least of Raskin's problems. Jobs, frustrated by the lack of input he was allowed over the Lisa project, had started looking for an alternative outlet for his talents. Originally, Jobs hated the idea of a cheap, compact computer and raged to anyone who would listen that it was doomed to failure. However, he changed his mind when the plans for the Macintosh project fell into his lap.

The arrival of Jobs in the Macintosh camp meant the end for Raskin, as he was forced off the project. Jobs insisted on a mouse (an idea Raskin disliked) and pressed the development team to breaking point. The Mac shipped, however, and Jobs will - erroneously - be remembered as the man behind the Macintosh. In fact, Raskin was the man with the vision and, by rights, should be championed as the inventor of the computer that set the tone for personal computing.

Twenty years after the launch of the Mac, Jef Raskin shares his thoughts with MacUser on Apple, computing and life in general.

MU: What is your favourite Apple product ever?

JR: Each has had its good and bad points. To have a favourite implies they can be ranked linearly, but there are too many parameters, and the space is multi-dimensional.

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