Apple Lisa

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Lisa /w mouseThe Apple Lisa is a fascinating computer, both in its history and its specifications. I think this computer is the epitome of everything good and bad about Apple computer back then, and even today. It was the computer that had the power to put a dent in the universe, but was destined to live a life of failure. I will attempt to make this short, for I am planning a full-scale article on the Lisa in the future. The Lisa was released in January 19, 1983. The project first began life in 1979 though, which called for a business machine to replace the Apple II. After Steve Jobs visited PARC, and to a look at the Xerox Alto (see Apple & the GUI or the Apple History Timeline for more info) he immediately called the Lisa team members to recreate the graphical interface. The bulk of that work was handed to Apple Fellow Bill Atkinson, who created LisaGraf, the graphics routines on the Lisa display that were the heart of the GUI project. Sparing no expense, the team added two of Apple's short-lived in-house "Twiggy" drives, multitasking, a then-expensive 5 MHz 68000 processor, 5 MB ProFile HD, application suite, and an OS that would put even the Xerox Star to shame. Lisa team members were dedicated to their goal of making this a revolutionary machine that would change the face of computing. Although they succeeded, it was a bittersweet victory. Even though Lisa's clock speed was five times faster than the IIe shipped at the same time (which still used the same processor as the Apple I), it was torturously slow. The applications were big and bulky, and the OS was not compatible with any prior software from any developer. Worst of all, a Lisa system cost $9995, way too much for anybody that would want to buy one. A famous quote really says it all, "It was a great machine, we just couldn't sell any". The Lisa was quickly discontinued to make room for the Lisa 2. Check out a Lisa Office System 7/7 screen shot.

Code Names: Lisa was the original code-name. Supposedly, the Lisa was named after Steve Jobs' eldest daughter, Lisa Nicole.

Processor: Motorola 68000 processor running at 5 MHz.
Memory: came with 1 MB of RAM
Drives: built-in Apple 871 5.25" disk drive ("Twiggy") which could hold about 871k of data. Also included was a 5 MB ProFILE HD.
Ports: ProFile parallel port, RS-323, and mouse port.
Expansion: 3 slots.

Operating Systems:
Lisa Office System: version 7/7 is what you would find one these machines, if you could find one.

On the market for: 1 year.

Interesting Facts:
Ironically, due to the Lisa's rarity and history, they have become a hot item with Apple enthusiasts. Original Lisas with the original Twiggy drives are next to impossible to find, and cost as much as a low-end computer does today. Since original Lisas were often upgraded free-of-charge to a Lisa 2, very rarely can you find a working model with its original components (If you do have one, I'd be glad to take it off your hands for you :). Although looking very compact, the Lisa weighs in at 52 lbs., incredibly heavy for its time.

Resources and Related Links:
The Lisa entry at Richard Kilpatrick's Apple Retro
Thanks go to We Love Our Apple Lisas for the great color Lisa 1 pic.