The Original Macintosh:    9 of 127 
I Invented Burrell
Author: Andy Hertzfeld
Date: January 1981
Characters: Burrell Smith, Jef Raskin
Topics: Personality
Summary: Burrell imitates Jef

Burrell had a great sense of humor, and he was capable of performing devastating impersonations of everybody else on the Mac team, especially the authority figures.

Whatever idea that you came up with, Jef Raskin had a tendency to claim that he invented it at some earlier point. That trait was the basis of Burrell's impersonation of Jef.

Jef had a slight stammer, which Burrell nailed perfectly. Burrell began by folding his fingers together like Jef and then exclaiming in a soft, Jef-like voice, "Why, why, why, I invented the Macintosh!"

Then Burrell would shift to his radio announcer voice, playing the part of an imaginary interviewer. "No, I thought that Burrell invented the Macintosh", the interviewer would object.

He'd shift back to his Jef voice for the punch line.

"Why, why, why, I invented Burrell!"

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I've read Jef's version of the stories at his site (and an interesting surprise appearance in the middle of a Slashdot thread!), and I found this funny with little stretch of the imagination. He really does sound rather bitter no-one gives him any credit for inventing the Mac. Or the web. Ten-to-one, when the media were claiming Al Gore said he invented the Internet, Jef probably replied to the TV "No, *I* did!"
After reading Jef's view on what happened over at and then this I am left confused at what the truth actually is. But I guess that's the vagueness of history?
For a well-documented view of why the history of the Mac, and other histories, are so often wrong, please see "Holes in the Histories" on my web site; I never claimed to have invented the web. I did write a document in 1979 that pretty accurately predicted what it would be used for. You may check it out for yourself either on Stanford University's History of Technology site. It is also reproduced as an appendix to the "Holes in the Histories" article. One of the problems with these stories and many claims and counterclaims is that most contributors don't have any documentation or do any research. So if Mr. Gruber thinks it funny to characterize me as having said the I invented the web, then I would find it amusing to see his basis for making that remark. One thing that Andy might have missed is that very often I actually had invented things that others also came up with. For example, I suspect (he can correct me if I'm wrong) that he did not know that in 1965-1966 I had developed a graphic input device (reference in my CV) that you could point with and which had one button. A description and photo were published. I had programmed a general-purpose graphics system called "Quick Draw" and Bill Atkinson had taken classes from me in which he learned about it in detail. It was part of the inspiration of Apple's Quick Draw graphics that Bill brilliantly implemented. Again, my work was published, and anybody who wants to see if I really had programmed a graphics system called "Quick Draw" in the late 60s can check it out. There are lots of other examples, but I doubt if I claimed to have done something I did not do. Now, if we were to discuss the Reality Distortion Field's pronouncements... :-)
It is still the case that Jef hyperbolizes a bit about his contributions to computer science. For example, Jef claims in a Pacifica Tribune article that he invented click and drag:,1413,92~3247~1920582,00.html This is most certainly untrue. If you know a little computer history you'd realize that pointing devices, click and drag, and many of the other things that Jef says he invented were already part of SketchPad, or Augment, or any of a dozen other systems created at MIT, SRI, Stanford, Xerox PARC, and even Apple.
I wish I had taken the opportunity to apologize to Jef before he passed away. I didn't mean to offend him. It's a shame to see him go.
Hard to tell which story is the best (or funniest)! I love this one, but I could say that to all other stories too. :)
Given Raskin's passion for ZUI, one might say he invented the iPhone.
It's easy to make fun of someone who has died. Perhaps everyone should stop with the silly jokes about Jef?