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Remembrances of Jef Raskin, by various people

Alex Liberman
Betsy Wilson
Bob Kradjian
James Perdue
Milo Zarakov

Keith Carter

Waqidi Falicoff

From Alex Liberman

My wife and I were lucky to see Jef Raskin at a lecture at macworld one time, I think it was 98 or so. When it was question/answer time, a little girl raised her hand, Jef called on the adults until finally hers was the last hand raised. Finally Jef called on her. She asked, "why do we need computers?"

From Betsy Wilson

I was a student of Jef's in 1970 at UCSD. I took his class "computer programming for the arts and humanities", after I had learned to program in the physics department. He was in the Vuisual Arts dept, too far-out for the physics dept (or applied physics, whatever). I then went on to take 2 quarters of individual study from him, with assignments such as "make the lights on the console dance". I was also a neighbor and remember going over to his house and admiring all the model airplanes hanging from his ceiling. His lessons have served me well in my 30-year career here at JPL as a telemetry engineer. I still quote him "let the machine do the work so the human does not have to". My friend called me with the news of his death, she took his photography class at UCSD, where he finagled a grant to give each student a camera, and she was grateful for that, as she never could have afforded it on her own.

Regards, Betsy Wilson (formerly Betsy Jaffe)

From Bob Kradjian

I first met a skinny Jef in the mid-70's where we would fly our radio-controlled planes at the JFK school in Daly City. He amazed me with his home-built receivers and modifications to the primitive controllers available. Our conversations beyond airplanes extended to music, art, and medicine as well as digital matters. We looked forward to our numerous pleasant meetings.

My surgical practice grew and I no longer had time to fly and Jef went on to Apple and the fabulous career known to all of you.

I followed his career with interest, but three decades passed without our seeing each other. We re-met just over a year ago at a model plane flying field and had a happy reunion. Our converations picked up as if there was no gap in our friendship. He was a unique and marvelous individual always bristling with original ideas and enthusiasm.

He will be greatly missed.

Bob Kradjian, M.D.

From James N Perdue

Hello, I thought I'd relay just a small story for your Jef Raskin section. I was a student of Biology and Music at UCSD 1964-1968. At the time Jef was a grad student/ instructor for the fledging music department in the new 3rd college (Muir). I was working on a minor in music and was becoming a programmer on the side, thus I was interested in digital music (such as it was in 1967). I took a couple courses from Jef, I think one was the Physics of Music, and the other was independent study. In the independent study Jef and I worked on a Symbolic Music plotting program (for the CDC 3600 at the Revelle College at UCSD). IT was written in Fortran. Jef had written a program for symbolically plotting music symbols using codes and coordinate on a staff. My job was to write a program that defined a music language for making the input easier. I defined a simple language like (4Ab, 4C, 16(d,e,f,g), etc.) that my program parsed then called his Symbolic Music plotting program to output the music on the appropriate location on the staff. It was a fun project. The input was all on punched cards, ran in a batch processing mode and the output was a far cry from what is available today from music publishing programs, but for the day it was quite advanced I believe.

Jef was easy to work with and encouraged any innovation I could come up with. He was truly interested in the subject matter (any subject) and was not concerned with the "rules" of teaching. He had a way that encouraged innovation. Of course it was great to have a one on one learning experience with him. It was obvious that his mind was running way ahead of his ability to realize his ideas. He was certainly a unique person among all the scientists at UCSD in those days. Later, when I realized that Jef had worked on the Macintosh for Apple (I was one of the first users, including the Lisa), I realized the signficance of his Symbolic approach to plotting music.

I have carried a small piece of paper behind some family photos in my wallet since 1967 that came from Jef's Symbolic Music Plotting program. It has hidden in my wallet for the last 38 years. It was a result of a scaling error I had made when I was testing Jef's program. The image shown above is a scan of that piece of paper. It was plotted on a very large Calcomp plotter. The file was created from a deck of cards read into the CDC 3600, ran on the computer, output vector plotting commands to a 7" magnetic tape, transfered to a smaller computer that had a Calcomp plotter attached and then plotted. I was expecting a large image an this little 3" x 1" image was in the upper left corner. I decided to clip it and save it.

Hope you enjoyed this small story.

James "Newt" Perdue

From Milo Zarakov

My name is Milo Zarakov and I am the individual pictured in photo number A-1846 on page 2 of the section entitled friends and acquaintances of Jef Raskin from the 60s through 80s. One of my housemates at the time, Mark Carter, said he took that photo at our Marine Street house in La Jolla, CA.

I first met Jef when I was a freshman at UC San Diego in 1968.  A friend and I came upon an art exhibit of a large maze created out of identical white boxes.  As we made our way through the maze we met others and then we saw this guy rearranging the maze as people went through it.   I asked him who he was and his reply: “I am the maker of the maze”.

At UCSD he taught in the Visual Arts department and lived on campus in a dorm on the old Camp Matthews part of the school that had previously been used as temporary dorms for Muir College students until their dorms were built.   I remember that he had a microwave oven in his room ­ one of the first I am sure that was commercially available.   He owned an orange International Carryall ­ sort of a Chevy Suburban type of vehicle.  He had it custom built with oversized brakes and other industrial strength parts to make it safer.   Orange was selected as a color to make it look more like a fleet vehicle.  To enhance the fleet image, he had 4 or 5 numbers on the back, as if there were many of these.    He was very fond of his tools.  Sometimes after using a screwdriver (Craftsman brand), he would file the tip so that it was perfect for its next use.

For a few months one year, we were able to obtain a bunch of abandoned bicycles.  He'd bring them to where I lived on Marine Street in La Jolla ­ this was probably in 1971.  A couple of us would repair them and sell them inexpensively to other students.   The only class I took from him was in BASIC.  The class was a lot of fun and he had us writing programs to compete against each other in efficiency.

My other recollection was that he would do independent contracting with a nearby data processing type company. He told me if he left teaching he could make $15,000 a year.

Interestingly, while typing this onto your website last night using a relatively old PC running on Windows ME, Internet Explorer abruptly abended, so I am retyping this onto a Word document this morning and will paste this into the web site message location.   Perhaps if I had only kept my Macintosh, that problem would have been avoided.
Jef had a very positive influence on me while in school and I was sad to hear of his death earlier this year.

From Keith Carter

Thanks for the photos - really bring back memories. My first and only computer course was from Jef - I did lots fo graphics on the mainframe - and their new calcomp plotter. Pissed off the CS majors - My programs took 20 min to run - more time than they had in a quarter. But as Jeff said - "use all the time you can - the more we use the more we get next quarter"
Truely a great soul -


Hi Bruce - The photos bring back memories - yes definitely alot from UCSD - the quonset huts and Revelle campus. I recognize faces but not names - (other than Jeff ). I particularly remember his cardboard art installation. Truely unique times - the birth of so many new directions in music and art. Very inspirational and compelling. I started out a physics major and ended up involved with the art and music depts.! Thanks for the photos - Keith

From Waqidi Falicoff (sent November 2005)

I knew Jef as a student at SUNY at Stony Brook. I was a student there from 1962 to 1968. When I knew him he drove as I remember a VW bus or van of some sort (it could have been something else) and it had a harpsicord in it. I went out for a short time with a girl student (my freshman year) at Stony Brook who later became his girlfriend.

Waqidi Falicoff (my name at the University was different)

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