First Impressions of a Newly Acquired Apple Lisa

I received a Lisa in the mail on my birthday, Saturday, February 4th. That was perfect timing. I brought it in the house and opened the package.

Apple Lisa II/Macintosh XL

RT, the person who sent it to me, used excelsior to protect it in transit. It kept my Lisa from breaking, but the excelsior broke up and got inside the Lisa through the cooling vents. The excelsior got in all of the slots (I/O, CPU, memory, expansion), so I had to open it up and get all of that out before turning it on.

I must say, Lisa (mine is a Lisa 2 with a 3.5″ floppy) is very easy to open up and work on. Everything slides out and comes apart very easily, so cleaning it out was a breeze.

Once I cleaned it out and put it back together, I hooked up the mouse from my old Mac Plus, plugged Lisa’s power cord in to the wall, crossed my fingers, and hit the power button.

It turned on, and the 10 MB Widget hard drive started spinning up.

At first I thought something might be broken, because the hard drive sounded like a blast of wind. But I figured it had been sitting for a very long time without being used, so I let it warm up for a while.

Then it started loading the OS – I knew it was loading something, anyway, because it had a dialog box with an hourglass on it and the hard drive was reading away.

Then, about two minutes later, the screen flashed. A happy Mac appeared on the screen, along with a dialog box at the bottom of the screen that said “MACWORKS XL 3.0 COPYRIGHT 1985 APPLE COMPUTER”.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to tell you all about the Lisa Office System like I had planned. However, I can tell you (to some extent anyway) what it’s like running Macintosh Finder 5.3 and System 3.2 on a machine that’s about half as fast as the Mac 128K.

It’s slow, kind of like running System 7 on a Mac Plus.

My Lisa has 1 MB of RAM, and it has about 3.8 MB left on the internal 10 MB hard drive. It has quite a few programs installed, including MacWrite, MacDraw, MacPaint, MacProject, Microsoft File, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Basic (b), Basic (d), Tetris, and Solitaire.

It also has Calculator+, which is a much more advanced calculator than the one that came installed on Macs (at least before OS X).

It’s a very good working machine, but there are a few things that are keeping me from using it and testing it further:

  • I don’t have a keyboard for it, so it can’t really be used for anything other than solitaire.
  • The internal 400k floppy drive doesn’t work, so I can’t load or save anything.

My Mom really likes Lisa – more than any other computer we’ve ever had. When I asked her if she would like to say something about Lisa, she said:

“I was surprised I ended up liking Lisa so much. At first I didn’t want Ted to get another computer, but once I started using Lisa, she really started to grow on me. She may be a bit slow, but she is not too slow for me. I find it very easy to find and access programs, and I love the solitaire games that are installed, many of them I had never played before. She is cutest and most friendly computer I have ever used.”

This Lisa has really sparked an interest in computers for my Mom.

It’s too bad we don’t have a keyboard or a working floppy drive; my mom could really put it to good use if I had them.

If anyone has a Lisa keyboard, a 400k floppy drive, or a copy of the Lisa Office System (so I can play around with it), and is willing to donate them, please contact me – tedahodges (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Anyway, I really like using it so far, and I plan to use it for a long time. It’s hard to think that it had been sitting in RT’s garage unused for so long – and before that, RT had saved it from the trash.

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