Introduced in January 1983, Apple’s Lisa shipped that June. The first consumer computer with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) display, a GUI (Graphical User Interface), and a mouse, its $10,000 price tag made it anything but successful. Only 11,000 original Lisas were sold.
Lisa had a whopping 1 MB of RAM, an unprecedented amount in an age when PCs could use at most 640 KB. That’s also more RAM than any Mac would have until the Mac Plus arrived in january 1986 – three years later.
Unlike Macintosh computers, Lisa does not have square pixels. Instead, pixels are 50% taller than they are wide. Its 720 x 360 pixel 12″ display had about 50% more pixels than early Macs, and it wasn’t until the Mac II arrived in March 1987 that Macs had comparable resolution with their new 640 x 480 pixel screens.
A year after it was introduced, the Lisa 2 was renamed Macintosh XL as some software changes were made to make the Lisa compatible with the Mac OS.
- Got a Lisa? Join LisaList.
- announced 1983.01.19 for May delivery at $9,995 with 5 MB Apple ProFile hard drive; also available with 10 MB hard drive; discontinued 1984.01
- requires Lisa OS
- CPU: 5 MHz 68000
- ROM: 16 KB
- RAM: 1 MB, expandable to 2 MB
- 12″ b&w screen, 720 x 360 rectangular pixels
- keyboard attached via coiled telephone-like cable
- mouse attached via DB-9 connector
- two DB-9 serial ports
- parallel printer port
- three expansion slots
- floppies: two 5.25″ 860 KB ultra-thin Twiggy drives
- sound: beeps
- size (HxWxD): 15.2″ x 18.7″ x 13.8″
- Weight: 48 lb.
- Gestalt ID: 2
- upgrade path: Lisa 2/Macintosh XL
- The Little-Known Apple Lisa: Five Quirks and Oddities, Benj Edwards, Macworld, 2013.01.30. “Thirty years ago, Apple unveiled the Apple Lisa, a pioneering machine that introduced the mouse-driven graphical user interface to a wide audience and opened a new chapter in personal computer history.”
- Lisa’s DNA is all over modern computing, Ray Arachelian, Apple Seeds, 2007.06.06. Those who label Apple’s Lisa a failure are ignoring the computer’s legacy that shows up in every personal computer sold today.
- Using Apple’s Lisa for real work, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2007.04.02. The Lisa Office System has some advantages of modern computers for word processing and other production work.
- Bringing my Apple Lisa back to life, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2007.03.26. The floppy drive wasn’t working the keyboard was rough. Some homebrew fixes got everything working again.
- Lisa emulator released, allows OS X and Windows users to experience Apple’s Lisa, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2007.02.27. Nearly a decade in the making, the Lisa Emulator Project now has a working Lisa emulator for Windows PCs and OS X Macs.
- Interview with Ray Arachelian, creator of the Lisa emulator, Ted Hodges, Vintage Mac Living, 2007.03.13. Ray Arachelian spent most of a decade creating the world’s first working Lisa emulator. Why he did it and some of the obstacles he had to overcome.
- A history of Apple’s Lisa, 1979-1986, Tom Hormby, Orchard, 2005.10.05. Originally envisioned as a business computer to replace the Apple II, the Lisa brought the mouse and GUI to the computer market – only to be felled by the less costly Macintosh.
- The Lisa legacy, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2003.01.20. On the Lisa’s 20th anniversary, we should remember how Apple’s innovation paved the way for all future computers.
- The innovative Lisa, Dan Knight, Online Tech Journal, 2001.05.31. Perhaps the most innovative computer before the Macintosh, Lisa paved the way for a GUI future.
- The History of Human Computer Interaction, Gerhard Erich Mischitz, 2001.01.23. Human computer interaction from the first computers through Windows 1.
- Tales from Tessler: History of the Lisa Computer, Larry Tesler, 2000.11.28
- What ever happened to Lisa?, John C. Dvorak, Computer Shopper (republished by Jags House)
- Apple’s Twiggy Disks, Eric, Retro Computing, 1996-99
- 20 Spectacular Failures, Byte, 1995.11. One paragraph on the Lisa – and one on the ill-fated Apple ///.
- Heart of the Apple Lisa, Jordin Kare, 1995
- The Legacy of the Lisa, David T. Craig, 1993.02.16
- Lisa Emulator Project. A work in progress.
- Apple Lisa, Obsolete Computer Museum
- Apple Lisa Tribute, Simon White
- Apple Lisa 1 and 2 XL, DigiBarn Computer Museum
- Apple Lisa: The First Affordable GUI, Apple Museum
- The Lisa Computer System, Gregg Williams, reprinted from Byte, 1983.02
- An Interview with Wayne Rosing, Bruce Daniels, and Larry Tesler, Chris Morgan, Gregg Williams, and Phil Lenunons, reprinted from Byte 1983.02
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