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Pub. period:1987-2004
Pub. count:13
Number of co-authors:0


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Jef Raskin


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Jef Raskin (March 9, 1943 - February 26, 2005) was an American human-computer interface expert best known for starting the Macintosh project for Apple in the late 1970s. Raskin was born in New York City to a secular Jewish family. He received degrees in mathematics (B.S. 1964) and philosophy (B.A. 1965) at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1967 he earned a master's degree in computer science at Pennsylvania State University. 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. He occasionally wrote for computer publications, such as Dr. Dobb's Journal.

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Publications by Jef Raskin (bibliography)

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Raskin, Jef (2004): We Are All Blind: Cognetics and the Designing of Interfaces for Accessibility: Introduction to the Special Thematic Session. In: Klaus, Joachim, Miesenberger, Klaus, Zagler, Wolfgang L. and Burger, Dominique (eds.) ICCHP 2004 - Computers Helping People with Special Needs - 9th International Conference July 7-9, 2004, Paris, France. pp. 1-5.

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Raskin, Jef (2001): Turning the Art of Interface Design into Engineering. In: Little, Murray Reed and Nigay, Laurence (eds.) EHCI 2001 - Engineering for Human-Computer Interaction, 8th IFIP International Conference May 11-13, 2001, Toronto, Canada. pp. 5-6.

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Raskin, Jef (2000): The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems. Addison-Wesley Publishing

 Cited in the following chapters:

Mobile Computing: [/encyclopedia/mobile_computing.html]

Design Spaces: [/books/the_social_design_of_technical_systems/design_spaces.html]

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Raskin, Jef (2000): Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems. Addison-Wesley Publishing

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Raskin, Jef (1999): The User Interface in Text Retrieval Systems Revisited, A Letter to the Editor. In ACM SIGCHI Bulletin, 31 (1) p. 37.

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Raskin, Jef (1997): What's NeXT for Apple?. In Interactions, 4 (3) pp. 12-16.

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Raskin, Jef (1997): Looking for a Humane Interface: Will Computers Ever Become Easy to Use?. In Communications of the ACM, 40 (2) pp. 98-101.

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Raskin, Jef (1996): Wanted for Crimes Against the Interface: Thoughts on an HCI Poster. In Interactions, 3 (6) pp. 70-76.

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Raskin, Jef (1994): Holes in History. In Interactions, 1 (3) pp. 11-16.

A personal perspective on how and why the early history of today's major interface paradigm has been so often misreported. The popular media has a poor track record of accurately presenting the recent history of technology. Regarding the story of the origin of human-computer interfaces, they have been far off the mark.

© All rights reserved Raskin and/or Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

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Raskin, Jef (1994): Viewpoint: Intuitive equals familiar. In Communications of the ACM, 37 (9) pp. 17-18.

One of the most common terms of praise for an interface is to say that it is "intuitive" (the word should have been "intuitable" but we will bow to convention). Yet the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) literature rarely mentions the word, and for good reason. This note attempts to clarify the meaning of "intuitive" for non-HCI specialists. The impression that the phrase "this interface feature is intuitive" leaves is that the interface works the way the user does, that normal human "intuition" suffices to use it, that neither training nor rational thought is necessary, and that it will feel "natural." We are said to "intuit" a concept when we seem to suddenly understand it without any apparent effort or previous exposure to the idea. In common parlance, intuition has the additional flavor of a nearly supernatural ability humans possess in varying degrees. Given these connotations, it is as uncomfortable a term in formal HCI studies as it is a common one in non-technical publications and in informal conversation about interfaces.

© All rights reserved Raskin and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Affordances: [/encyclopedia/affordances_and_design.html]

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Raskin, Jef (1991): A Concern about the Samuelson-Glushko Survey. In ACM SIGCHI Bulletin, 23 (3) pp. 12-14.

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Raskin, Jef (1989): Systemic Implications of Leap and an Improved Two-Part Cursor: A Case Study. In: Bice, Ken and Lewis, Clayton H. (eds.) Proceedings of the ACM CHI 89 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 30 - June 4, 1989, Austin, Texas. pp. 167-170.

The lowly text cursor is a non-issue for most interface designers. Nonetheless, current text cursor designs suffer from at least two problems: one-off errors and a lack of visibility of function. These problems are exacerbated in an editing environment which uses the extremely fast Leap cursor-moving technology. This paper presents solutions to these cursor design problems and reveals the surprising way many other aspects of system design can be improved as a consequence of designing the cursor correctly.

© All rights reserved Raskin and/or ACM Press

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Raskin, Jef (1987): The Hype in Hypertext: A Critique. In: Weiss, Stephen and Schwartz, Mayer (eds.) Proceedings of ACM Hypertext 87 Conference November 13-15, 1987, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. pp. 325-330.

Hypertext has received a lot of mostly uncritical attention. The author sees it as one part inspiration and nine parts hyperbole. A number of user interface and technical problems are discussed.

© All rights reserved Raskin and/or ACM Press

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