Source Code for Apple's Lisa Operating System to be Released for Free in 2018

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The Apple Lisa, released in 1983, was one of the first personal computers to come equipped with a graphical user interface, and soon the operating system that ran on the Lisa will available for free, courtesy of the Computer History Museum and Apple.


    As noted by Gizmodo, Al Kossow, a software curator at the Computer History Museum, recently announced that both the source code for the Lisa operating system and the Lisa apps have been recovered. Apple is reviewing the source code, and once that's done, the museum will be releasing the code publicly.
    Back when the Lisa was first released, Apple charged $9,995, with the machine aimed at business users. It was equipped with a 5MHz Motorola 68000 CPU, 1MB of RAM, and a 5MB hard drive. Given its high price, Apple only managed to sell about 100,000 of the Lisa computers. Though Steve Jobs originally denied it, he later said the Lisa was named for his daughter, Lisa Brennan.

    Apple's Lisa operating system featured the text-based Workshop for developing software and the Lisa Office System, which had seven apps that included LisaWrite, LisaCalc, LisaDraw, LisaGraph, LisaProject, LisaList, and LisaTerminal.

    The Lisa computer was followed by the Macintosh in 1984, and the Macintosh was essentially a more affordable, improved version of the Lisa, which allowed it to outsell the Lisa. Though Apple did introduce additional versions of the Lisa computer at a lower price tag, it was ultimately discontinued only a few short years after its introduction.

    Article Link: Source Code for Apple's Lisa Operating System to be Released for Free in 2018
  2. BittenApple macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2008
    I wonder why ? what a are the benefits to this ?
  3. WAM2 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2011
    United States
  4. vicviper789 macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2013
  5. mariusignorello macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2013
    Let’s see what this reveals about the upcoming product pipeline!
  6. Bart Kela Suspended

    Bart Kela

    Oct 12, 2016
    Per Al Kossow, the Lisa operating system has some historical significance which will be detailed in an upcoming CHM blog post that will accompany the release of the operating system source code.

    What we already know is that the Lisa operating system was one of the first graphical user interfaces to a commercial operating system, much of it cribbed by Apple from a quick visit to Xerox PARC. Microsoft Windows quickly followed the Lisa operating system and while Apple claimed that Microsoft had copied the Lisa operating system, in fact Microsoft had also seen the Xerox PARC work themselves.

    The Lisa operating system was followed by the Macintosh and its game-changing operating system.
  7. chucker23n1 macrumors 68020


    Dec 7, 2014
    “What have museums and History class ever done for us?”

    That’s why. Learning from history, being inspired by greatness, extrapolating what’s next.
  8. Glideslope macrumors 603


    Dec 7, 2007
    A quiet place in NY.
  9. Thunderbird macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2005
  10. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2003
    $9995 in 1985 is equivalent to over $25k in 2017. So a top-of-the-line iMac Pro ($13k) is still about half of what the Lisa cost back then. For an exponentially more powerful computer. As a business machine, the price is fair.
  11. Sasparilla macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2012
    Absolutely cool! Guessing it'll be C with some Assembly thrown in there for critical areas. But this will just be cool to look at for all the programmers out there.

    Happy New Year folks! Wow... Thank you Computer History Museum and Apple!
  12. skeuomorphism macrumors newbie


    Jun 10, 2015
    Almost certainly no C. Apple used Pascal as its primary higher-level language back then. The source to QuickDraw and MacPaint were released in 2010. QuickDraw is entirely assembly, and MacPaint is a combination of Pascal and Assembly.
  13. aKansasKid macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2015
    In 1982 while a software engineer at Boeing, Xerox PARC loaned my group a Xerox Star for me to evaluate for two weeks. When Apple unveiled the Lisa in 1983 and the Mac in 1984, they were already very familiar to me, with a UI almost identical to that on the Star.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 27, 2017 ---
    Yes, the OS was in Pascal for the Lisa and the Mac.
  14. john katos macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2012
    It was NOT cribbed, stolen, borrowed or anything other remotely suspect. It was paid for with a s-load of pre-IPO apple stock. Also when the Mac was first introduced the apps had to be written and compiled on the Lisa.
  15. npmacuser5, Dec 27, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017

    npmacuser5 macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2015
    I worked on an interface to the Apple Lisa. Essentially a 2400 dpi dot matrix printer to photographic imaging. A couple years before Adobe released Postscript. Actually worked quite well. Amazing gray scale photos and reasonably clear type. Interesting working with Apple Engineering back then. The Lisa was a rather heavy bulky system. In the day, very cool and advanced graphical interface. Unfortunately this product had a short life, the Macintosh came along. Fun times. :)
  16. jdogg836 macrumors 6502


    Jul 28, 2010
    I know a lot of amateur programmers out there who get a kick out of checking out source code. It's like the Apollo 11 files, it's crazy to see how programmers overcome shortcomings or limitations in hardware. It's definitely cool, no matter how practical their uses are in today's world.
  17. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    Jobs was actually taken to PARC by Apple engineers who wanted to show him what the Macintosh could become so he (and Apple's Board) would not cancel the project (the team had already developed a problematic GUI prior to the PARC visit but the issues with it were causing Apple to continuously consider killing the project). Jobs was indeed impressed by what he was shown (it effectively proved a GUI was a practical interface) and subsequently fully embraced the Macintosh project and gave them the resources they needed.

    Apple also invested (via $100,000 in stock) in Xerox / PARC after this second visit and agreed to purchase Xerox services. While not a true cross-licensing deal, it did give Apple's engineers the rights to visit PARC and engage their engineers in conversation and collaboration.

    And while Mac OS did adopt some of the "big picture" elements of Alto / Star - including the use of a GUI and a mouse - the Mac implemented things in it's own unique way (which is why an infringement suit by Xerox against Apple in 1990 was subsequently thrown out).
  18. kdarling, Dec 27, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017

    kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Close. His project at the time was the Lisa, not the later Mac.

    True. Apple's Lisa UI, before going to Xerox, was keyboard driven. Their switch to a GUI was hugely driven by what they saw at Xerox in late 1979.


    No, that's really backwards :), as Apple invested nothing.

    Apple was offering pre-IPO stock options to many investors, no strings attached. At the time, Apple needed angel investors, needed the money, and the best way to raise interest in a new stock is to offer pre-IPO options. Thus there was NO need for Xerox to offer anything in return for the investment Apple needed.

    Xerox Development Corporation (XDC - an investment arm) took 1.6% of the pre-IP stock options (they didn't actually buy it for another year or so).

    It was LATER ON AFTER this that Steve Jobs took advantage of contacts made via that PRE-EXISTING XDC investment connection, to wrangle (Xerox insiders say "bully") his way into a late 1979 visit to the totally different Xerox PARC section.

    True, except Lisa came before the Mac.

    Nope. Xerox waited too long to file a necessary legal document, so the case was decided on the slim evidence already given about copyrights.

    You might be thinkng about the Apple-Microsoft suit going on at about the same period in time.

    Note btw that Apple never claimed to have a GUI license from Xerox. That particular myth seems to have arisen later on.
  19. ImBuz macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2014
    This was my very first computer, I was able to buy one in Walnut Creek, CA for $7000, I at first only used it to do payroll (the one module cost $700)--what a step up that was for me.
    The payroll module came from a company BPI--I think they were in Texas.
    They eventually came out with accounts payable, receivable and general ledger.
    When the McIntosh was released Both Apple and BPI quit supporting the Lisa platform--Apple offered to take my Lisa in trade plua another $1500 for a McIntosh--needless to say at that point I jumped to a PC--a Hyundai, that proved to be so much faster with a huge (Laughing) hard drive.
    BPI allowed me to switch to Dos programs for $50.They were a great company
    unlike Apple at the time.
  20. luisfrocha macrumors newbie

    Sep 14, 2014
    San Antonio, TX
    This but is not true. At no point has Microsoft stated this, unless I’ve missed it in the last 20 years I’ve been involved in technology. And what happened was that at the time Microsoft was in the business of making compilers, not operating systems. So Apple sought Microsoft to make the compiler plus apps (Office suite). Making the compiler requires intimate knowledge of the OS, so Apple had to allow them this knowledge. It was this transfer of knowledge that Microsoft used to develop Windows.
    At least that’s the story I’ve heard from multiple sources (not just Apple) ever since Apple filed the suit.
  21. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I would be nice to go back in time and see a unboxing of the Lisa with people of that era and see the reactions.
  22. badNameErr, Dec 27, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017

    badNameErr macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2007
    Above ground.
    Hurry up and release the QuickDraw GX source code!
  23. PaulRustad007 macrumors 6502


    Jun 3, 2015
    Who is going to port it iOS? That would be interesting......
    --- Post Merged, Dec 27, 2017 ---
    I heard that Jobs gave Bill a copy of MacOS so they could code Office better, and then suddenly Windows comes out.....coincidence?
    --- Post Merged, Dec 27, 2017 ---
    restraining order prevents that....
  24. Avieshek Suspended


    Dec 7, 2013
  25. bobob macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2008

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