The Lisa Turns 40

Hansen Hsu, writing for the Computer History Museum:

Happy 40th Birthday to Lisa! The Apple Lisa computer, that is. In celebration of this milestone, CHM has received permission from Apple to release the source code to the Lisa software, including its system and applications software.

Access the code here.

What is the Apple Lisa computer, and why was its release on January 19, 1983, an important date in computer history? Apple’s Macintosh line of computers today, known for bringing mouse-driven graphical user interfaces (GUIs) to the masses and transforming the way we use our computers, owes its existence to its immediate predecessor at Apple, the Lisa. Without the Lisa, there would have been no Macintosh — at least in the form we have it today — and perhaps there would have been no Microsoft Windows either.

The Lisa was a bit before my time, and so expensive that I can’t even think of an alternate universe where I might have encountered one. To this day, I’ve never seen one. The Mac interface captured a certain magic that the Lisa’s quite obviously did not — I think the Lisa ultimately failed more because of that than its price. But its influence on the original Mac is obvious.

Here’s a gem of a comment a friend spotted in the source code (appw-prefmain.text.unix.txt):

{ Welcome to the ALL Create Preferences Window.

    Through the extensive use of hallucenogens I have found
    truth and beauty. However, those same hallucenogens have
    also made me incapable of getting to Dodge Ridge to sell
    reclaimed ski wax in the parking lot.}

No idea what that means, but the early 1980s were a different era. Might have made perfect sense then.

Update: The above comment is obviously the follow-up to this comment in appw-config.text.unix.txt:

    Don't be alarmed by the mess, we're just moving in.

    The author apologizes for the lack of style and elegance
    exhibited in this code, perhaps someday truth and beauty
    will be mine and I will rewrite it. However, if truth and
    beauty ever does come to me I'll prabably just leave and
    sell reclaimed ski wax in the Dodge Ridge parking lot.
    See you there!}

Monday, 23 January 2023