Talk:Apple Lisa

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Untitled comment[edit]

I deleted a duplicate link to the same article.


Any objection to renaming this to Apple Lisa? --Brion

  • Rather than objecting, I think it's an excellent idea. -- April
  • I agree. We may need "LISA" for a gravity wave observatory, if the ESA gets NASA to put up their share of the money. Vicki Rosenzweig

Done. --Brion 12:41 Aug 28, 2002 (PDT)


How many Apple Lisa were built and/or sold ? ( I want to compare that number to the 25,000 units of the Xerox Star mentioned in the Xerox PARC article ).

According to [2], "It is thought that roughly 11,000 Lisa 1's and 70,000 Lisa 2's (including Macintosh XL) were produced." — David Remahl 22:28, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The Lisa OS provided non-preemptive multitasking. It is a common misconception that it had preemptive multitasking, but that was only avaiable on the Lisa if you ran one of the Unix ports, such as Unisoft. --Brouhaha 21:50, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Blakespot: How is it that you claim that it is "easily verified" that the Lisa had preemptive multitasking? The Lisa operating system documentation very definitely claims otherwise; Lisa applications have to periodically yield the CPU just as was historically the case on the Macintosh. But assuming that the application is written correctly, this is transparent to the user. This is also explicitly stated to have been a deliberate design decision in the invited paper "Architecture of the Lisa Personal Computer" by Bruce Daniels, published in Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 72 No. 3, March 1984, page 335:

   The CPU is multiplexed among the runnable processes by using a priority based nonpreemptive
   scheduling algorithm.  This nonpreemptive scheduling policy guarantees correct access to shared
   resources, such as the bit-mapped display, by interactive processes without the performance penalty
   of having to explicitly lock and unlock these resources for each access.

Since Bruce Daniels was one of the developers, I consider this to be an authoritative reference in the absence of more details on your "easily verified" claim. Are you possibly confusing "preemptive multitasking" with some other concept? I'm inclined to revert your change unless you can explain why the IEEE article and the Lisa OS documentation are wrong. --Brouhaha 02:17, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I know the truth about how the Apple Lisa got its name. One of my uncles told me (he works for Apple.) He said that it was named after Steve Jobs' daughter, so I reworded it to make it clear that somebody around here knows the truth (while still keeping to NPOV policies.) Scott Gall 10:20, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Many Apple employees (and former employees) that worked on Lisa "know the truth", yet just as many vehemently deny the story about Jobs' daughter as confirm it. It's going to take more than a single anecdotal report from one (unnamed thus unverifiable) employee to confirm it. Thus I've reverted the change unil there is something more authoritative. --Brouhaha 19:19, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Officially, the LISA was "Local Integrated Software Architecture". This has to be accepted since it is all that Apple are likely to officially admit. I'm troubled by "shrouded in mystery" as it is cliched and not really accurate. The truth is fairly simple: it had an official definition, obvious unofficial significance which possibly came first and option three is thrown in for humour. Mattisgoo 01:42, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)


The above sounds like someone at Apple made it up to make the Acronym fit the name Lisa. The acronym makes no sense to me and I'm an IT professional. I'm not a current or former apple employee, but we did have a Lisa in our office back in the 80s and my boss did mention that it was named after Steve Jobs' daughter. Further, the computer name Lisa was Never capitalized (LISA), which nearly all acronyms are. As far as them being buried in the desert - most likely not, too valuable given Apple's agreements with Sun. Cadillacmike (talk) 12:13, 5 March 2013 (UTC)


Mattisgoo, your conclusions are correct. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 67.107.133.3 (talkcontribs) .


Where are the other LISAs buried? which landfill, and have any of them been dug up? --????

Reportedly somewhere in Utah. I've always thought that the story was somewhat dubious. When Apple renamed the Lisa 2/10 to be "Macintosh XL", and supplied it with the square pixel mod preinstalled and MacWorks on the hard drive, it sold quite well. They were doing this to try to clear out the inventory, and reportedly they ran out of them. If that's true, why would they have buried any?

Secondly, they had an existing business relationship with Sun Remarketing, which purchased and resold other Apple obsolete/overstock items. Sun Remarketing continued to sell Lisas for some time after they were discontinued, so it's not clear why Apple would have buried any Lisas rather than just selling them to Sun Remarketing.

It's another one of those mysteries that will probably never have a satisfactory explanation. --Brouhaha 20:08, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Landfill ? Atari, not Apple, surely ? ( and don't call me surely... )[edit]

The story of LISAs being buried in landfill - unless verifiable - sounds suspiciously like something actually done by Atari, not Apple.
Atari_video_game_burial in the mid-1980's.
Perhaps misheard as "Apple buried something" instead of "Atari buried something" - similar to how people "remember" seeing Bugs Bunny at Disney theme parks ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.25.123.158 (talk) 22:51, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

I'm very sure this happened. Atari may have done something similar - but for sure a bunch of Lisa's wound up in landfill. SteveBaker (talk) 03:35, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

My dead brother worked in Apple's distribution. His story is that they flew into Salt Lake City and Vans were unavailable, so they rented Cadillacs and Lincolns big enough to haul a lot. Their arrival into the small town raised attention, as though the Mafia were in town. They were noticed by locals disposing and the media was notified. The uproar that the computers should have been donated to schools, was the turning point for Apple to do just that from that point on. He was let go shortly after coming back to San Jose. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dusty morningwood (talkcontribs) 20:21, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Free hard drive?[edit]

In 1984 at the same time the Macintosh was officially announced, Apple announced that they were providing free 5 MB hard drive upgrades to all Lisa 1 owners.

I don't think so - what we earlier got were free replacements for the Twiggy drives in the form of 400kb 3.5" hard shell floppies. Can anyone verify the above statement? Leonard G. 05:39, 19 January 2006 (UTC)


Nice Image[edit]

Any chance of anyone identifying the different parts of the Lisa in the photo? — Frecklefoot | Talk 22:18, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

That's a Profile (Apple's external hard drive, probably 5MB) sitting on top. Two Twiggy slots on the right, keyboard below, no mouse is visible in this photo. GeoFan49 08:56, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Cost of parts?[edit]

Just how much did the Lisa cost Apple to build? I recently saw an interview with Woz where he talked about the majority of the cost of the machine was from RAM alone. (Don't ask me what program -- G4 Icons? History Channel's Modern Marvels: 80's Tech?) --Navstar 03:57, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Theoretically there was a 512KB configuration of the Lisa, but I don't think they actually shipped any since the Lisa Office System wouldn't run on it. A 1MB Lisa contained two 512KB memory boards each of which had 64 DRAM chips (4164 64Kbit DRAM, or equivalent). Those probably cost Apple about $3 each in 1983, so that was $384 for just the RAM chips. The only other single component in a Lisa system that would have cost more than that was the HDA of the external Apple ProFile hard drive. --Brouhaha 19:49, 25 June 2006 (UTC)

Odd memories of the Lisa[edit]

One of the odd things about the Lisa was that it was designed to be easy for the casual user to upgrade by adding new hardware - the back panel had a microswitch on it such that if you removed the panel while the computer was running, it would automatically shut itself down. We didn't know that and after we'd pulled the back off to add memory or something, we tried to check the machine was working OK before we put the panel back on again. The computer wouldn't run and we couldn't understand why. Thinking we'd broken it, we shipped it off to be repaired - since we'd packed it all up with the back panel re-installed, when the Apple service department got it, it booted right up and ran first time. This actually happened twice before we realised what was happening!

Ours was used in an office environment - running UNIX and with four users logged in over serial ports. SteveBaker 03:33, 19 January 2007 (UTC)


Implied Link to the shuttle disasters[edit]

Deleted the last sentence from the section about NASA's use of Lisa, which implied that Lisa's discontinuation was somehow responsible for the shuttle disasters. Thirdgen 06:18, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Internal memory?[edit]

The article mentions:

At a time when 96 kibibytes of RAM was considered an extravagance, much of the Lisa's high price tag—and therefore its commercial failure—can be attributed to the large amount of RAM the system came with. Most personal computers didn't begin shipping with mebibyte-sized RAM until the mid-to-late 1980s.

However, I can't find any reference to how much internal memory the system actually contained. This paragraph makes little sense without this information. Could someone who knows this please add it to the "Hardware" section? 130.89.167.52 12:32, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Alternative Operating Systems for Lisa[edit]

I remember providing ISV support for Apple Lisas running SCO XENIX. We had one or two clients successfully using them to run Open Systems Accounting Software under Thoroughbred Business BASIC. On top of the multiple virtual terminals that XENIX provided, Lisa had one (or two?) built-in serial ports (but more could be added using an expansion slot), so dumb terminals were sometimes added to make a small timeshared multiuser system. Despite the 5 Mhz CPU, XENIX being all character based made it feel snappy enough even when timeshared. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.68.70.186 (talk) 07:13, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Yeah - I worked with the personal computer research team at Philips Research. We bought a Lisa (I suspect it was a Lisa II) in order to investigate the GUI system. Once we'd finished evaluating it, the machine was turned into a UNIX box. It's possible we were running Xenix also. We had (typically) four users logged in through the serial ports using either dumb terminals or CP/M machines using terminal emulator software that I wrote for the purpose. I think there should be some mention of the SCO Xenix port for the Lisa in the article. SteveBaker (talk) 15:36, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

Helping Bootstrap the Mac[edit]

The Macintosh originally was strictly a runtime system; to develop software for it, one had to have a Lisa (usually using Lisa Pascal as the dev language). A BASIC interpreter (from Microsoft, if I recall correctly; Apple BASIC was negotiated away by MS) was available but of course was not considered a viable alternative for producing 'real' Mac software. The rationale was that the Mac started off with 128K and no hard drive, which made it incapable of hosting the development system.

Ignore this...[edit]

Just noticed the notice at the top. !@#$ Maiq the liar (talk) 23:41, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Non-square pixels[edit]

In the Macintosh XL article, I noticed the following:

Because of its roots as a Lisa—and unlike all other Macintosh computers—the Macintosh XL did not use square pixels.

Did the Lisa really have non-square pixels? How non-square were they, and was this common at the time? Is it worth a mention in the Hardware section? - IMSoP (talk) 15:57, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the Lisa and Mac XL had unsquare pixels. The aspect ratio was such that graphics appeared narrower on the Lisa and Mac XL than the Mac. It didn't appear to be a big issue, except when doing precision graphics, but Mac apps like Adobe Illustrator and ArchiCAD came into their own while larger external monitors appeared for the Mac, so people didn't really have anything of the same vein to run on the Lisa to make it an issue.

"First"[edit]

Under Hardware it claims, "It was the first commercial personal computer to have a GUI and a mouse." Did the Xerox Star not introduce these? It was released a year before the Apple Lisa. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.24.219.5 (talk) 03:53, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

I have added a {{clarify}} tag to warn readers and editors that this sentence is problematic. I am sure that the Star interface counts as a GUI, so I can only imagine that either (a) the author was not aware of the Star's precedence, or (b) thinks that the Star was somehow not a 'personal' computer. I think that although the Star was meant to be networked, each workstation was used by one person at a time. So for the ordinary encyclopedia reader who is unable to make the fuzzy distinction between a workstation and a personal computer, it would be best if the article explains exactly how the Lisa differed from the Star. --Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 22:42, 3 April 2009 (UTC)
Certainly you couldn't just go into a store and buy a Star - and I recall phoning Xerox to see if we could buy some when I worked at Philips Research - and they wouldn't sell us any. Our Xerox Star article has a properly referenced statement that says "Although by 1979 nearly 1000 Ethernet-linked Altos were in use at Xerox and another 500 at collaborating universities and government offices, it was never intended to be a commercial product.". Also, it wasn't really intended to be a stand-alone computer (although it could just barely be used that way) - but rather (as our articles says): "The Xerox Star was not originally meant to be a stand-alone computer, but to be part of an integrated Xerox "personal office system" that also connected to other workstations and network services via Ethernet. Although a single unit sold for $16,000, a typical office would have to purchase at least 2 or 3 machines along with a file server and a name server/print server. Spending $50,000 to $100,000 for a complete installation was not an easy sell, when a secretary's annual salary was about $12,000 per year.".
So the Lisa deserves this credit - but at $10,000 each - I doubt many people had the opportunity to use them as personal computers (in the sense of one computer per person). The one we had at Philips was running UNIX and we logged into it remotely via it's serial ports - IIRC, we had three or four users sharing it and nobody using the GUI, mouse or bitmapped display! SteveBaker (talk) 03:31, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
The Alto and Star were very different machines intended to fill very different roles. The Alto was a research machine and was never intended to be sold commercially, while the Star was definitely intended to be sold as a product. Any statements regarding the Alto have no bearing whatsoever on the commercial status of the Star. I have no idea why Xerox might have refused to sell one to Philips Research, but they definitely were advertised as a commercially available product and were sold. No, it wasn't something you could buy at a shop down the street, but that was true of many other Xerox products as well.
The only distinction that can reasonably drawn from this is that the Star may not have been intended to be sold at the retail level, while the Apple Lisa was. --Brouhaha (talk) 07:41, 25 August 2009 (UTC)


The Xerox Star was not the first commercial GUI computer[edit]

The 3 Rivers PERQ GUI computer first sold in August 1980....see the info at...http://toastytech.com/guis/perq.html — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.110.206.127 (talk) 16:55, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

I believe the original PERQ OS was a Command Line Interface.--65.78.148.35 (talk) 23:24, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Photo of Lisa at the Boston Computer Show in 1983[edit]

That man sitting there is almost certainly science and sf writer Isaac Asimov, who lived in Boston at that time.

Plagiarism? (No, but circular referencing)[edit]

The entire etymology section of this article appears to have been copied nearly-verbatim from the first source reference at mac-history.net Charles Kozierok (talk) 16:00, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

It appears that mac-history.net copied this text from the Wikipedia article, not the other way around. The mac-history.net article was published 12 October 2007. The first time a version of this text appeared in this Wikipedia article was on 18 January 2005 [3]. If we look at the version of this article immediately preceding mac-history.net's publication [4], we can see that mac-history.net copied several sentences from this article: (duplication detector report: [5].) The author cites Wikipedia at the end of the second page. We should consider replacing mac-history.net as a source. GabrielF (talk) 04:13, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
Indeed that is a violation of WP:CIRCULAR that still persists in article. Someone not using his real name (talk) 10:28, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Protected Memory?[edit]

Simple question - how does an operating system running on a CPU without an MMU or segmented memory ( such as the Motorola 68000 ) provide 'protected memory'? If there is no supporting evidence can it be removed please? Djm63y2k (talk) 17:53, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

  • A MMU does not need to be integrated with the CPU. The Lisa had about as rudimentary an MMU as possible, comprising TTL logic chips, but it was enough to separate physical from logical addresses. I have added an authoritative citation. Potatoswatter (talk) 08:05, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Cooperative multitasking[edit]

I've edited the article to claim preemptive multitasking, but upon reading further into the vintage documentation I see that this isn't exactly the case. Processes were not automatically preempted by a hardware timer but all system calls (or a jump to non-resident code) had the effect of yielding the CPU. This requires less "cooperation" than other systems such as the later Mac OS, which typically have one call for yielding and allow a process to remain in control whilst it accesses OS services.

I don't think either buzzword really fits. The article should probably give a bit of detail about this, as it's a very contentious point. Potatoswatter (talk) 08:20, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Additional reference: They wanted more responsive dragging and scrolling. The implication is that these activities did not require OS calls, which is odd. Why not just temporarily raise task priority? Were they unaware of the cost to system stability? Potatoswatter (talk) 08:51, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

copyright violation?[edit]

concerning the recent tag added to the article. [6] Scans of the manual that came with the computer, are on the website in question. I believe this qualifies as fair usage. The manual is not being printed anymore, since the computer isn't being made, no money is being made from this at all, and its there for educational purposes. Is the copyright owner likely to complain about something like this? Dream Focus 10:44, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Who knows if they qualify as fair use or not? There hasn't been a substantive court case for stuff like this. In practice, the vast majority of computer companies don't make money from selling manuals, let alone old manuals. For example, we have lots of links to ancient Intel manuals that aren't on Intel's site. Intel does have all new manuals for free on their site, but it would cost them pretty money (just in the scanning cost, never mind bandwidth) to put all their stuff from the 80's there, and it's extremely likely that wouldn't generate any new sales for them. So they have little incentive to do archival like that. As long as such old manuals are hosted on a fairly reputable source (e.g. bitsavers, at the University of Stuttgart [7]), which we can assume would remove them if they received DMCA notices, then I think it's fine to link to them. It's really not that different from linking to archive.org, probably the greatest WP:LINKVIO machine, but tolerated in practice (in no small part because they comply with DMCA request). Someone not using his real name (talk) 09:59, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
By the way, the linkvio tags were added by User:Elegie, who hasn't commented here yet. Someone not using his real name (talk) 10:19, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Although the manuals may be out of print, it is not at all clear that linking to complete copies even for the purpose of reference is a fair use. Under the WP:LINKVIO policy, it appears that archives that "host unmodified archived copies of webpages taken at various points in time" are something of a special case (it is noted that the copyright status of such archives in the US is unclear) in that it is permissible to link to them, at least currently; the Wayback Machine at archive.org falls in this category although it is not the case that all the other materials at archive.org are in the same category. From what one can tell, if a page has content that is known to be infringing, then linking to an archived copy of the page via the Wayback Machine might be problematic whereas linking to an archived copy of a page that is not known to contain infringing content would be OK under the current policy. Also, from what one understands, the Wayback Machine may sometimes acquire content to archive in an automated fashion which could make it easier for Archive.org to claim that the archived content is of third-party origin and thus within the DMCA safe harbor. It is not clear that uploading copyrighted content (such as a printed manual) in its entirety to a Web page is comparable to archiving publicly accessible Web pages along with providing a means to go from one version to another (which is sort of what the Wayback Machine does.) --Elegie (talk) 06:51, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Do you have a source for your claim that full-scale (not google snippet) copying of web pages has unclear copyright status in the US, as opposed to scanned material? Someone not using his real name (talk) 17:19, 1 March 2014 (UTC)