Apple Lisa

The Lisa was not Apple’s first attempt at a business computer; that was the Apple III. Apple had started development of the Lisa at the same time as the Apple III, but it did not reach the market until 1983. The Lisa was a radically different (and more expensive) computer.

Apple Lisa
Source: Apple, 1983

Officially, Apple claimed that “Lisa” is an acronym that stands for Local Integrated Software Architecture. Legend has it, though, that the computer was named after either Steve Jobs’s daughter or the daughter of one of the engineers, but the true inspiration for the name has never been confirmed. Andy Hertzfeld, one of the creators of the Macintosh, says in his book, “Revolution in the Valley,” that the acronym explanation may have been invented after the fact in response to press queries about the name’s origin.

The original Lisa, referred to as the Lisa 1 by collectors, was technologically innovative, but a commercial failure for Apple. It popularized the concept of the GUI (graphical user interface) and could perform pre-emptive multitasking, meaning it could run multiple programs at once. However, it was overpriced and lacked adequate software and hardware support. Apple was able to make lemonade out of lemons by using lessons learned from the Lisa development on the Macintosh, one of the most successful microcomputers ever made.

Introduced: January 1983
Original Retail Price: 
$9,995
Base Configuration: 68000 CPU, three slots, 1MB RAM, two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives (“Twiggy” drives), integral 12-inch monochrome monitor, keyboard/keypad, mouse, two serial and one parallel port, application suite
Video: 40-line x 132-column text, 720 x 364 graphics
Important Options: CP/M or Xenix, external 5MB ProFile hard disk drive, dot-matrix or daisy-wheel printer