It had been a long way until the day of the official introduction of the Macintosh on January 24th, 1984. Five years earlier, in spring 1979, Apple chairman Mike Markkula wondered whether his company should bring a 500 dollar computer to market. Markkula then charged Jef Raskin with the secret “Annie” project.
Raskin was a “philosophical guy who could be both playful and ponderous”, writes Walter Isaacson in his book “Steve Jobs”. 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.
Raskin had been responsible for Apple’s publications, particularly manuals, and actually was to more intensely oversee the developers writing the applications for the Apple II. “I told him [Markkula] it was a fine project, but I wasn’t terribly interested in a 500-dollar game machine,” Raskin later remembered. “However, there was this thing that I’d been dreaming about – it was [that] it would be designed from a human factors perspective, which at that time was totally incomprehensible.”
In fall 1979, Raskin wrote his article “Computers by the Millions“, in which he drafted his version of a computer for the masses. Markkula insisted on the report to be treated as a confidential internal report. The essay was not published until 1982 in the SIGPC Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 2.