Computer History Museum Releases Apple Lisa Source Code on 40th Launch Anniversary

The Computer History Museum located in Mountain View, California, today released the Apple Lisa source code, including its system and applications software. Today happens to be the 40th anniversary of the original January 19, 1983 release of the Apple Lisa.

apple lisa
Aimed at business users, the Apple Lisa was priced at close to $10,000 when it was introduced, and the high price tag combined with software issues and problems with floppy disks caused it to be something of a commercial failure. Though it was largely replaced with the much more affordable Apple Macintosh and Lisa 2 after just two years, The Apple Lisa is known for its innovative use of a graphical user interface (GUI).

The Apple Lisa included several apps, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, and charts, all of which were bundled with the system. The GUI was inspired by Xerox PARC's Smalltalk system, but had its own innovations that ultimately inspired Apple's future operating systems as well as Microsoft's Windows software.

Those interested in downloading the Apple Lisa code can do so through the Computer History Museum website.

The code is being released as part of the Computer History Museum's ongoing "Art of Code" series, which explores historical code releases that power significant developments in computing. There will be a hybrid in-person/online event on January 31 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time that will commemorate Apple's PC journey and highlight what made the Lisa the company's "most important flop."

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Top Rated Comments

obviouslogic Avatar
20 months ago
I couldn't resist this stroll down memory lane and had to pull my Mac SE out of storage... Can't believe the damned thing still runs after 35 years! I've owned it since Fall of 1987. In fact the oldest files I can find in my archives is from a Pascal programming class, March of 1988.

Obviously, it doesn't get any use anymore. But was last in regular use around 2003-2004 when I had it set up in a small local coffee shop/bakery. I wrote a couple of HyperCard stacks to implement a Gift Card system and Customer Order Tracking system. It ran for about 6 months before I replaced it with a cheap iMac running a web based version of those systems. (The poor SE was getting beat up and dirty as hell.)

As you can see in the 2nd photo, it started out as a 1MB, two 800K floppy system. Was first upgraded to an FDHD system, which replaced the controller chip and floppy drives with HD versions (US$500), then upgraded RAM to 4MB (US$600), then replaced one floppy drive with an internal 45MB HD (US$800), and finally installed an ethernet card after I bought my first iMac so I could use the SE as a file and print sever.

They don't make them like that anymore. Although my 2009 iMac is still chugging along just fine.

*If you look at the second photo, you can see how much the color of the case has changed over the years. The transparent sticker with all the computer info has protected the plastic underneath.

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Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Analog Kid Avatar
20 months ago
Oh man-- please someone release a Lisa simulator for Mac!
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Exponent Avatar
20 months ago
Also, the Lisa gave Kevin Costner his start…
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
crsh1976 Avatar
20 months ago
Just refreshed my memory by looking at the hardware specs - 5 MHz 68000 processor and 1 MB of RAM, 9-inch monochrome display, housed in a hefty 48 lbs package.

Just think how much more powerful and tiny your iPhone is compared to this thing, 40 years apart.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
20 months ago
An impressive piece of tech for 1983 but way too expensive. Basically, it's a $30,000 computer.

Does anyone know what would be a Trade-In value for Apple Lisa at an Apple store or

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Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ersan191 Avatar
20 months ago
HUGE fan of the computer history museum, do yourself a favor and swing by if you're ever in NorCal
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)