Jef Raskin's Baby
Jef Raskin was the type of character who could enthrall Steve Jobs—or annoy him. As it turned out, he did both.
A philosophical guy who could be both playful and ponderous, Raskin had studied computer science, taught music and visual arts, conducted a chamber opera company, and organized guerrilla theater.
His 1967 doctoral thesis at U.C. San Diego argued that computers should have graphical rather than text-based interfaces.
When he got fed up with teaching, he rented a hot air balloon, flew over the chancellor's house, and shouted down his decision to quit.
When Jobs was looking for someone to write a manual for the Apple II in 1976, he called Raskin, who had his own little consulting firm.
Raskin went to the garage, saw Wozniak beavering away at a workbench, and was convinced by Jobs to write the manual for $50.
Eventually he became the manager of Apple's publications department.
One of Raskin's dreams was to build an inexpensive computer for the masses, and in 1979 he convinced Mike Markkula to put him in charge of a small development project code-named "Annie" to do just that.
Since Raskin thought it was sexist to name computers after women, he redubbed the project in honor of his favorite type of apple, the McIntosh.
But he changed the spelling in order not to conflict with the name of the audio equipment maker McIntosh Laboratory.
The proposed computer became known as the Macintosh.
Raskin envisioned a machine that would sell for $1,000 and be a simple appliance, with screen and keyboard and computer all in one unit.
To keep the cost down, he proposed a tiny five-inch screen and a very cheap (and underpowered) microprocessor, the Motorola 6809.
Raskin fancied himself a philosopher, and he wrote his thoughts in an ever-expanding notebook that he called "The Book of Macintosh."
He also issued occasional manifestos. One of these was called "Computers by the Millions," and it began with an aspiration:
"If personal computers are to be truly personal, it will have to be as likely as not that a family, picked at random, will own one."