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Source Code for Apple's Lisa Operating System to be Released for Free in 2018

The Apple Lisa, released in 1983, was one of the first personal computers to come equipped with a graphical user interface, and soon the operating system that ran on the Lisa will available for free, courtesy of the Computer History Museum and Apple.


As noted by Gizmodo, Al Kossow, a software curator at the Computer History Museum, recently announced that both the source code for the Lisa operating system and the Lisa apps have been recovered. Apple is reviewing the source code, and once that's done, the museum will be releasing the code publicly.
Just wanted to let everyone know the sources to the OS and applications were recovered, I converted them to Unix end of line conventions and spaces for Pascal tabs after recovering the files using Disk Image Chef, and they are with Apple for review. After that's done, CHM will do an @CHM blog post about the historical significance of the software and the code that is cleared for release by Apple will be made available in 2018.

The only thing I saw that probably won't be able to be released is the American Heritage dictionary for the spell checker in LisaWrite.
Back when the Lisa was first released, Apple charged $9,995, with the machine aimed at business users. It was equipped with a 5MHz Motorola 68000 CPU, 1MB of RAM, and a 5MB hard drive. Given its high price, Apple only managed to sell about 100,000 of the Lisa computers. Though Steve Jobs originally denied it, he later said the Lisa was named for his daughter, Lisa Brennan.

Apple's Lisa operating system featured the text-based Workshop for developing software and the Lisa Office System, which had seven apps that included LisaWrite, LisaCalc, LisaDraw, LisaGraph, LisaProject, LisaList, and LisaTerminal.

The Lisa computer was followed by the Macintosh in 1984, and the Macintosh was essentially a more affordable, improved version of the Lisa, which allowed it to outsell the Lisa. Though Apple did introduce additional versions of the Lisa computer at a lower price tag, it was ultimately discontinued only a few short years after its introduction.



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8 weeks ago

I wonder why ? what a are the benefits to this ?


“What have museums and History class ever done for us?”

That’s why. Learning from history, being inspired by greatness, extrapolating what’s next.
Rating: 26 Votes
8 weeks ago

Absolutely cool! Guessing it'll be C with some Assembly thrown in there for critical areas. But this will just be cool to look at for all the programmers out there.


Almost certainly no C. Apple used Pascal as its primary higher-level language back then. The source to QuickDraw and MacPaint were released in 2010. QuickDraw is entirely assembly, and MacPaint is a combination of Pascal and Assembly.
Rating: 16 Votes
8 weeks ago
$9995 in 1985 is equivalent to over $25k in 2017. So a top-of-the-line iMac Pro ($13k) is still about half of what the Lisa cost back then. For an exponentially more powerful computer. As a business machine, the price is fair.
Rating: 14 Votes
8 weeks ago

Per Al Kossow, the Lisa operating system has some historical significance which will be detailed in an upcoming CHM blog post that will accompany the release of the operating system source code.

What we already know is that the Lisa operating system was one of the first graphical user interfaces to a commercial operating system, much of it cribbed by Apple from a quick visit to Xerox PARC. Microsoft Windows quickly followed the Lisa operating system and while Apple claimed that Microsoft had copied the Lisa operating system, in fact Microsoft had also seen the Xerox PARC work themselves.

The Lisa operating system was followed by the Macintosh and its game-changing operating system.


It was NOT cribbed, stolen, borrowed or anything other remotely suspect. It was paid for with a s-load of pre-IPO apple stock. Also when the Mac was first introduced the apps had to be written and compiled on the Lisa.
Rating: 12 Votes
8 weeks ago

I wonder why ? what a are the benefits to this ?

Per Al Kossow, the Lisa operating system has some historical significance which will be detailed in an upcoming CHM blog post that will accompany the release of the operating system source code.

What we already know is that the Lisa operating system was one of the first graphical user interfaces to a commercial operating system, much of it cribbed by Apple from a quick visit to Xerox PARC. Microsoft Windows quickly followed the Lisa operating system and while Apple claimed that Microsoft had copied the Lisa operating system, in fact Microsoft had also seen the Xerox PARC work themselves.

The Lisa operating system was followed by the Macintosh and its game-changing operating system.
Rating: 12 Votes
8 weeks ago

Jobs was actually taken to PARC by Apple engineers who wanted to show him what the Macintosh could become so he (and Apple's Board) would not cancel the project ...


Close. His project at the time was the Lisa, not the later Mac.

the team had already developed a problematic GUI prior to the PARC visit


True. Apple's Lisa UI, before going to Xerox, was keyboard driven. Their switch to a GUI was hugely driven by what they saw at Xerox in late 1979.



Apple also invested (via $100,000 in stock) in Xerox / PARC after this second visit and agreed to purchase Xerox services.


No, that's really backwards :), as Apple invested nothing.

Apple was offering pre-IPO stock options to many investors, no strings attached. At the time, Apple needed angel investors, needed the money, and the best way to raise interest in a new stock is to offer pre-IPO options. Thus there was NO need for Xerox to offer anything in return for the investment Apple needed.

Xerox Development Corporation (XDC - an investment arm) took 1.6% of the pre-IP stock options (they didn't actually buy it for another year or so).

It was LATER ON AFTER this that Steve Jobs took advantage of contacts made via that PRE-EXISTING XDC investment connection, to wrangle (Xerox insiders say "bully") his way into a late 1979 visit to the totally different Xerox PARC section.

And while Mac OS did adopt some of the "big picture" elements of Alto / Star - including the use of a GUI and a mouse - the Mac implemented things in it's own unique way


True, except Lisa came before the Mac.

(which is why an infringement suit by Xerox against Apple in 1990 was subsequently thrown out).


Nope. Xerox waited too long to file a necessary legal document, so the case was decided on the slim evidence already given about copyrights.

You might be thinkng about the Apple-Microsoft suit going on at about the same period in time.

Note btw that Apple never claimed to have a GUI license from Xerox. That particular myth seems to have arisen later on.

Rating: 11 Votes
8 weeks ago

I wonder why ? what a are the benefits to this ?


I know a lot of amateur programmers out there who get a kick out of checking out source code. It's like the Apollo 11 files, it's crazy to see how programmers overcome shortcomings or limitations in hardware. It's definitely cool, no matter how practical their uses are in today's world.
Rating: 11 Votes
8 weeks ago
Modular mac pro confirmed
Rating: 9 Votes
8 weeks ago

What we already know is that the Lisa operating system was one of the first graphical user interfaces to a commercial operating system, much of it cribbed by Apple from a quick visit to Xerox PARC.


Jobs was actually taken to PARC by Apple engineers who wanted to show him what the Macintosh could become so he (and Apple's Board) would not cancel the project (the team had already developed a problematic GUI prior to the PARC visit but the issues with it were causing Apple to continuously consider killing the project). Jobs was indeed impressed by what he was shown (it effectively proved a GUI was a practical interface) and subsequently fully embraced the Macintosh project and gave them the resources they needed.

Apple also invested (via $100,000 in stock) in Xerox / PARC after this second visit and agreed to purchase Xerox services. While not a true cross-licensing deal, it did give Apple's engineers the rights to visit PARC and engage their engineers in conversation and collaboration.

And while Mac OS did adopt some of the "big picture" elements of Alto / Star - including the use of a GUI and a mouse - the Mac implemented things in it's own unique way (which is why an infringement suit by Xerox against Apple in 1990 was subsequently thrown out).
Rating: 8 Votes
8 weeks ago
I worked on an interface to the Apple Lisa. Essentially a 2400 dpi dot matrix printer to photographic imaging. A couple years before Adobe released Postscript. Actually worked quite well. Amazing gray scale photos and reasonably clear type. Interesting working with Apple Engineering back then. The Lisa was a rather heavy bulky system. In the day, very cool and advanced graphical interface. Unfortunately this product had a short life, the Macintosh came along. Fun times. :)
Rating: 8 Votes

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