Computer History Museum To Release Apple Lisa OS Source Code For Free Use In 2018

The Apple Lisa was a groundbreaking machine when it launched over three decades ago in 1983. It was one of the very first commercially available computers that had a graphical user interface or GUI. Further, beyond just its slick GUI interface, the Lisa computer was also known for being a massive flop for Apple unfortunately, though its OS was revolutionary on a number of levels.

apple lisa

Apple invested $150 million in R&D on the desktop machine, a massive amount of money at the time, and only 10,000 units were sold over its three-year run. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was an integral to the Lisa's development, but then Apple CEO John Sully forced Jobs off the project causing a rift between the two that eventually saw Jobs leave the company.

We are very close to the 35th birthday of the Lisa computer, which launched in January 1983, and to celebrate that launch, the Computer History Museum is getting ready to release the operating system developed for Lisa into the wild for free. The code will be offered as open source and anyone who wants to tinker with it will be able to.

The news of the OS going open source was made by Google LisaList Groups user Al Kossow who wrote, "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."


The reason the Lisa was a commercial flop is likely the cost. In 1983, the machine sold for $10,000 and adjusted for inflation that would be about $24,000 today. You cold get a new car or a computer. As for why Apple called the OS and computer Lisa, it officially stood for "Local Integrated System Architecture" but Jobs claimed later it was named for his oldest daughter. The Macintosh launched in 1984 and has lived on to become the Macs we all know today.

We all know that Microsoft won the OS wars early on and has been the most popular OS globally for a long time. Jobs also claimed that Bill Gates had stolen technology from Lisa to build Windows, leading to a lawsuit between Apple and Microsoft.


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