Pascal Syntax Poster
Jef Raskin, Creator of Apple's Macintosh

Pascal Syntax Poster

Oct 8, 2004

When Brian Howard and I were writing the Pascal Manual for Apple Computer, I discovered that the syntax chart that had been published with previous Pascal books was incorrect. With some effort and attention, I created a new and correct syntax chart, and had the brainstorm to use color to aid in understanding the structure. In each place that a new syntactic unit appeared, I made it in a unique color, and then the graphic definition of that unit was in the same color. This allowed a programmer to quickly scan the chart to find an answer to whatever question they might have about Pascal syntax.

I made up a color poster, and soon it was over every programmer's desk at Apple.

Steve Jobs decided that the poster would be a good marketing tool for Pascal -- and I completely agreed. He said that he'd have a professional artist redraw it in a 3D style, and went away with one of the posters. I suggested that Jobs have the artist talk to me to make sure that the concept behind the chart was understood, and Jobs said that he would, of course, do that.

In typical Steve Jobs style, he didn't get the artist in touch with me, and he never informed me that the project was proceeding. In fact, he never told the artist where the chart had come from, only to take the original and make it more attractive. The artist had no idea of the functional aspect of the colors, and assigned colors at pleasure, losing much of the utility of the chart. When Jobs brought the chart to show me how it came out, I told him that the colors no longer conveyed the information intended. They didn't make sense. He blithely told me that he had already had thousands printed, that what counted was that it looked a lot better than my original, and he strode off unconcerned. With Jobs' usual appreciation of appearances over functionality, no longer did the chart credit my work, but he made sure that the artist's signature appeared.

The poster was 22 by 34 inches and printed on heavy stock, with a flat black background and semi-gloss colors. Not having a scanner large enough for the job, this image was reproduced by shooting the chart with a digital camera.

-- Jef

Note from the Editor:
Thanks to Jef, the original Apple Pascal syntax chart is available for download right here at Pascal Central. Jef sent me a 3.9MB file that was a 6.3" by 9.7" digital picture of the poster in 300 dpi resolution. I created a web-viewable version of the poster at 72 dpi (64KB). Use the links below to download either version (if you choose the hi-res version, I recommend doing a right-click to save it to your hard disk rather than wait for your browser to render it).

About Jef:
Jef Raskin is the author of The Humane Interface (Addison-Wesley 2000), creator of Apple's Macintosh, the Canon Cat, click-and-drag selection and other inventions. He coined the term and the concept of "information appliances." To learn more about Jef, or read some of his writings, visit his web site at

Copyright © Jef Raskin 2004