The great Lisa has just turned 40! Apple’s Lisa, that is. To celebrate, the Computer History Museum (CHM) has done two great things. First, they have released the source code to the Lisa software. You can find it here. Second, they have published this extensive history on the ground breaking machine, The Lisa: Apple’s Most Influential Failure.
Like the NeXT computer, the Lisa computer was a machine that tried to do too much too soon. And while it was not the success that Apple had hoped, it did lead to great success later. That definitely comes across in that CHM piece.
It’s fascinating to compare the picture above with the one below (both from CHM). In the one above you can see the original Lisa (1) with “Twiggy” floppy drive that was unreliable and ditched in the later models, seen below. You can also see how the machine on the left (the original Macintosh) would come to take over from the machine on the right (the Lisa 2). It has many of the same features but at a much reduced price.
When you think of Apple computers, you likely think of one of more of those found in this List of Macintosh models. While not a Mac, the Lisa was the precursor of all those machines that came later, starting with the original Mac. It was the birth of a new form of personal computing.
Happy birthday, Lisa! You deserve to be celebrated.
For more on this, see this Hackday piece on Open-Sourcing The Lisa Mac’s Bigger Sister.