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Made With Macintosh


Whatever Happened To The Lisa?



What Ever Happened to... Lisa?

 by John C. Dvorak

 The rise and fall of the Apple Lisa was a strange tale--one that coincided with numerous
 industry events and concluded with the ousting of Steve Jobs by John Sculley. Oddly enough,
 Sculley was lured by Jobs to Apple with a showing of the Lisa prior to its public release in
 January of 1983.

 The roots of the Apple Lisa lie at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center with a historic machine
 called the Alto. Its underlying technology became the Xerox Star, which was first shown at the
 May 1991 National Computer Conference. Costing between $15,000 and $50,000, the Star
 was not for casual desktop computer users. The Lisa, however, was. But its price of $10,000
 would still prove too expensive for the market Apple had developed.

 When the Apple Lisa was announced, so was the Apple IIe, which kept the company afloat as
 the Lisa tanked. Lisa officially stood for Logical Integrated Software Architecture, but
 everyone in the industry knew its moniker was dedicated to a girl named Lisa. The original
 machine consisted of a 5MHz 68000 processor (0.4 MIPS) with 1MB of RAM, 2MB of ROM, and
 720x364 graphics running on a built-in 12-inch monitor.

 There were two built-in, proprietary floppy drives. These drives, called "Twiggy" drives, used
 an odd 5.25-inch disk that sported unusual holes. Using a two-sided, two-head design, the
 disks could hold 860K. It always mystified people that Apple chose this oddball drive design. It
 had other unusual characteristics, such as variable-speed and nonopposing read/write heads
 on opposite sides of the disk. A pad would be on the other side of the head, rather than
 another head. Originally it was thought that these miracle drives would be incorporated into the
 Apple II line. They never were, as they turned out to be unreliable.

 Because Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak was credited for the unique disk drive design used
 by the Apple II, I have always suspected that Jobs, wanting to one-up Wozniak, kept trying to
 do something "creative" with his disk drives. Another drive Apple built under Jobs' watch was
 the Widget--a 10MB hard drive. In the Next machine, he incorporated an offbeat optical drive.
 And in his newest machine, the iMac, he finally rejected the floppy drive altogether.

 Living with Lisa-- but not for Long 

 The Lisa was the first GUI machine designed for the mass market. Although not priced low
 enough, it did introduce all the features common in most popular machines today, including a
 mouse and a desktop metaphor. Historically, it is one of the most important contributions to
 computing, and the original Lisa 1 is a valuable collector's item. It even had some visionary
 features that we have yet to see incorporated in modern machines, including a true instant-on
 capability and internal serial numbers built into the hardware.

 The Lisa was initially announced in January of 1983, but the machine did not ship until June of
 that year. And even though sales were moribund, Jobs was quoted as saying, "We're
 prepared to live with Lisa for the next 10 years."

 By January of 1984, with the Macintosh about to be introduced, the company gave Lisa 1
 owners a free upgrade to the Lisa 2 and announced the Lisa 2/5 and Lisa 2/10. The 2/5 had a
 5MB hard drive and the 2/10 a whopping 10MB hard drive (the Widget). The Twiggy drive was
 dropped for a 3.5-inch Sony. Still, few Lisas sold. It was estimated that Apple, which began
 development in 1979, spent $50 million on the Lisa. Luckily, much of the development was
 rolled into the Macintosh design.

 A year later, the company changed the Lisa's name to the Macintosh XL (the XL standing for
 "extra large") in hopes of squeezing some extra sales from the machine. The software was
 changed to make the machine Macintosh-compatible, and a Macintosh-format 3.5-inch drive
 was incorporated.

 By April of 1985, the same month that IBM dropped the PCjr, the Lisa was dropped from
 Apple's product line. The following month, Jobs was forced out as head of the Macintosh
 division and resigned from the company altogether. In June, he was "banished" from the
 company. I wrote a cruel "Inside Track" column, then published in Infoworld, saying good
 riddance. Jobs hasn't spoken to me since.

 Shortly thereafter, he went off to form Next Computer, which was brought back into Apple a
 decade later with Jobs, who now rules the roost as CEO, in tow. A strange route to the top.

 There are claims that Apple manufactured 100,000 Lisas, but sales figures are hard to confirm.
 In 1989, Apple dumped thousands of Lisa machines into a nearby landfill. Archaeologists will
 no doubt unearth them someday and create mystical stories surrounding the importance and
 origin of these machines.

Some content used ith permission from Apple_history.com.

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