Caroline Rose (writer)

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Caroline Rose
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February 22, 1947
Jamaica, Queens, New York (city)
Other namesCaroline Diehl (1967–1973)
CitizenshipUnited States Of America
OccupationTechnical writer and editor
Known forIntegrating documentation into software design
Notable work
Inside Macintosh, Volumes I–III; user-friendly computer manuals dating back to 1968

Caroline Rose (born February 22, 1947) is a technical writer and editor who has been recognized for her work spanning the computer industry from the late 1960s to the present day, and particularly for her role in establishing documentation as a key component in software design. As a member of the original Apple Inc. team and the lead writer of the first three volumes of Inside Macintosh, Rose demonstrated how the documentation process can significantly influence the design of an application programming interface.

Rose began her career in 1967 at Tymshare, where she wrote some of the first user-friendly manuals in Silicon Valley, learned computer programming, and worked in a group led by Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse. In addition to joining the Macintosh team, she was an early employee and Manager of Publications at NeXT Computer. She later returned to Apple to serve as editor in chief of its technical journal, Develop (Apple magazine). An independent contractor since 1997, she’s worked on documentation ranging from early editions of the PostScript and PDF reference manuals to a book on Internet of things development with JavaScript.


Rose graduated cum laude from Queens College, City University of New York with a B.A. in Mathematics in 1967.



Rose worked briefly as a research assistant in a Manhattan firm called Market Statistics before moving to California and accepting a job in late 1967 at Tymshare, a computer time-sharing company, where she was hired to write easy-to-understand documentation for customers dialing in to Tymshare’s computers via modem. She wrote manuals for the company’s EXECUTIVE, EDITOR, and SUPER BASIC, among other subjects, before switching to a programming position for 7 years.

As a programmer, Rose worked on parts of Fortran and the MAGNUM relational database system, while continuing to write, including manuals for MAGNUM and Tymshare’s systems implementation language, SIMPL.

In 1976, Rose turned full-time to writing, editing, and supervising user and systems documentation. Tymshare’s purchase of Doug Engelbart’s NLS (computer system) (later AUGMENT) group from SRI International|SRI in 1977 gave her the opportunity to work in that group and to use Engelbart’s prototype of the computer mouse. She went on to manage documentation within Tymshare’s Systems Technology Division.

Apple Computer

Rose was hired into the original Macintosh group in mid-1982 as lead writer of the developer documentation for the new computer. According to Macintosh team member Andy Hertzfeld, “Before long I figured out that if Caroline had trouble understanding something, it probably meant the design was flawed. On a number of occasions, I … revised the API to fix the flaw that she had pointed out. I began to imagine her questions when I was coding something new, which made me work harder to get things clearer before I went over them with her.”[1]

Rose reported to Chris Espinosa, one of Apple’s original employees, who said that the way she worked with programmers “helped confirm that the publications group was an integral part of the software design process. Espinosa added, “That is when documentation really works. And Caroline is the best I've ever seen at that. Rose’s contribution as lead writer, editor, and project supervisor of Inside Macintosh, Volumes I–III, was honored by the addition of a rose on the screen of one of the images of the Macintosh on the inside back cover of the book’s hardcover edition. Rose also supervised other Macintosh documentation projects, including Inside Macintosh, Volume IV.

Based on Rose’s work on Inside Macintosh, Scott Knaster acknowledged her, in his book How to Write Macintosh Software, as being “the best technical writer I’ve ever known.”[2]

NeXT Computer

Rose was an early employee of this company, which Steve Jobs founded after he left Apple. She established the Publications department and managed, cowrote, and edited user and developer documentation for NeXT software, as well as the user manual for the word processor WriteNow For Macintosh (which had been in development by two independent contractors when Jobs hired them, and which was later ported to the NeXT platform).

Rose’s involvement in WriteNow For Macintosh extended to her becoming its de facto project manager and participating in user interface decisions. Just as in the Macintosh group at Apple, her close collaboration with the programming team enhanced both the design and the documentation of the software. In his review of WriteNow For Macintosh in Byte (magazine) magazine, Jerry Pournelle called it “a straightforward text editor/word processor, distinguished by having about the clearest manual I’ve ever seen.”[3]

Likewise, Rose and her group of writers worked closely with NeXT programmers, early in the design and development process, to document NeXT software. Roy West, a member of the group, described Rose as “an innovative technical writer and editor” whose prior Inside Macintosh work had been “groundbreaking.

Return to Apple Computer

Rose returned to Apple in early 1991 to take over the role of editor in chief of develop, The Apple Technical Journal, until develop became part of MacTech magazine in 1997.

Independent contracting

Rose has been an independent contractor since May 1997, writing and editing developer and user documentation for clients including Adobe, Apple, Genentech, Logitech, Marvell, Nokia, and Sony. Among her first contract jobs were to coauthor and coedit the third editions of Adobe Inc.PostScript Language Reference and PDF Reference manuals. Her most recent work includes editing the book IoT Development for ESP32 and ESP8266 with JavaScript.


For develop, The Apple Technical Journal, from the Society for Technical Communication:

  • Award of Excellence, 1997 and 1993 international competitions
  • Best of Category, 1996, 1995, and 1993 Northern CA competitions
  • Award of Merit, 1996 international competition
  • Award of Distinguished Technical Communication, 1994 international competition
  • Award of Excellence, 1992 Northern CA competition

For Inside Macintosh, Volumes I–III: Award of Achievement, Society for Technical Communication, 1986 Northern CA competition

For the MAGNUM reference manual: Outstanding Individual Achievement Award, from Tymshare, January 1976


  1. Hertzfeld, Andy (2004). Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made. O'Reilly Media. pp. 112–113. ISBN 0-596-00719-1.
  2. Knaster, Scott (June 1, 1992). How to Write Macintosh Software. Hayden Book Company. p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-201-60805-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  3. Pournelle, Jerry (June 1, 1987). "Chaos Manor". Byte. Volume 12, Number 6: 292 – via Internet Archive. {{cite journal}}: |volume= has extra text (help)

External links

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