Apple Lisa: You can now download its source code

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apple Lisa, the Computer History Museum has released the source code for the first graphical user interface computer.

It is the first computer with a graphical user interface (GUI), an approach to personal computer interfaces that Steve Jobs adopted after visiting the Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto in 1979.

Poor sales

While most people remember Apple’s Macintosh for its graphical interface, Computer History Museum software curator Hansen Hsu, who worked on Mac OS X at Apple, noted in a blog post that he doesn’t there would be no mouse-driven Macintosh or Microsoft Windows without the Lisa.

“Apple’s line of Macintosh computers, known today for bringing mouse-driven graphical user interfaces 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 know it today, and there might not have been Microsoft Windows either,” writes Hansen Hsu.

Priced at $9,995 in 1983, the Apple Lisa was aimed at business and featured a Motorola 68000 microprocessor with a hard drive that proved insufficient for the Lisa’s multitasking operation. Sales were lackluster against IBM’s $1,565 command-line interface PC. Lisa was following the command-line Apple II, which was aimed at consumers.

The Apple Lisa included the Lisa OS operating system and several office applications, such as the LisaWrite word processor and the LisaCalc spreadsheet. Other programs included LisaTerminal, LisaGraph, LisaList, and LisaProject. Source code for the Apple Lisa is available on the Computer History Museum website.


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