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A Remembrance of Jef Raskin, by Bana Witt

Jef Raskin My Music Teacher

After about two years in the city, I decided I wanted to take music lessons.  The first time I had run away from home was with my boyfriend when I was 14.  We had stopped at a man's house in the woods near Three Rivers.  There I had heard him play a recorder, a straight flute-like instrument with a pure and soulful tone.  I had tried without success to teach myself the instrument since high school.

I was such an emotional wreck at this point, I couldn't even go to the store without becoming hysterical if anything went wrong.  I was chronically depressed and cried constantly.  My face was usually puffy, I had bad acne and deep black circles around my eyes.

I knew if I didn't change things in my life, I was going to kill myself.  To go to a music class once a week was about all I could deal with. I knew I had better find a very sensitive teacher, because I was so near to hysterics all the time.

I saw an ad for the Community Music Center in a local paper and had my friend Patti drive me there.  I grilled the lady at the registration desk as to the sensitivity of the teacher, she said she had just the man for me.  He was a very sweet slightly chubby man with a full reddish brown beard and happy intelligent eyes.  His name was Jef Raskin.  His manner was refined beyond digestion. He was prepared to teach me music no matter how slowly it went.  He could have taught an autistic child (maybe he did).  And it was slow.  I managed about one note a week and could not grasp the concept of time signature.  I would cry if I hit a wrong note.  He would stop and tell me a story.  And we would try again.  These were not only music lessons.

They were my first attempts to do break out of the cyclic despondency that I seemed unable to shake.  No amount of shrinks couches could have replaced the simple consistent discipline involved in learning something so hopelessly beautiful, so totally the opposite of all I had been doing.   Jef started bringing me articles he had written about computers  and poems.  I brought him my poems, I was very flattered to have such an obvious intellectual appreciate my stuff.   I looked forward to my music lessons more than any other thing.  I went to music performances at his house where the most incredible people met and played ancient instruments like sackbutts and crumhorns.  They were all involved in computers.

Social Security had decided to get me off the dole, but they did want to pay to have me trained for a job.  I told my music teacher about it and he came back with a plan.

He would teach me computers.  He had a small computer documentation firm in Brisbane, south of San Francisco.  The firm was called Bannister & Crunn after characters on a comedy show on BBC.

Social Security actually went out and inspected the place to make sure it was an appropriate work rehabilitation site.  He passed.  I went to work there and both my music teacher and I got paid by the state.  The funny thing is it really worked.  I learned more about computers than any school would have been able to teach me.  After I'd been there about six months they got offered a job writing the manual for a little computer company in Cupertino called Apple.  I was to be the naive user and test what they had written as they wrote it.  The first time I went to the company with my teacher they were just moving into their first big offices, this must have been the beginning of 1978.  I met this really nice energetic hippy guy named Steve Jobs.  He was pretty much the main contact between Bannister and Crunn and Apple.

A week later I found out they were going to hire the entire staff of three at Bannister and Crunn.  I was part of the package.  I became employee number 49 at Apple Computer and Jef Raskin became the father of the Macintosh computer.

Bana writes: My wedding in 1980 to Bruce Tognazzini (Tog on Interface) performed by Jef Raskin, computer genius, Universal Life Minister and my personal  mentor

Bana Witt

See Also:

The homepage and creative works of Bana Witt

Back to Jef Raskin's Pages at the Digibarn

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