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Lisa

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The Apple Lisa was a revolutionary personal computer designed at Apple Computer during the early 1980s. The Lisa project was started at Apple in 1978 and slowly evolved into a project to design a powerful personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI) that would be targeted toward business customers. Around 1982, Steve Jobs was forced out of the Lisa project, so he joined the Macintosh project instead. Contrary to popular belief, the Macintosh is not a direct descendant of Lisa, although there are obvious similarities between the systems.

Etymology

While the documentation shipped with the original Lisa only ever referred to it as The Lisa, officially, Apple stated that the name was an acronym for Local Integrated Software Architecture. Since Steve Jobs' first daughter (born in 1978) was named Lisa Jobs, it is normally inferred that the name also had a personal association and perhaps that the acronym was invented later to fit the name (see backronym). Other more jovial explanations expand the acronym to Let's Invent Some Acronym.

Hardware

The Lisa was first introduced in January 1983 (announced on January 19) at a cost of $9,995 US ($19,000 in 2005 dollars). It was one of the first commercial personal computers to have a GUI and a mouse. It used a Motorola 68000 CPU at a 5 MHz clock rate and had 1 MB RAM. The first Lisa had two custom 5¼ inch floppy disk drives designed with two head assemblies, one per side, which could seek independently. These drives required custom media with two head openings. They were nicknamed "Twiggy" drives. An optional external 5 MB Apple ProFile hard drive (originally designed for the Apple III) was also offered. The later Lisa 2 models used a single 3½ inch floppy disk drive and optional 5 or 10 MB internal hard disks. In 1984, at the same time the Macintosh was officially announced, Apple announced that they were providing free 5 MB hard drive upgrades to all Lisa 1 owners.

Software

The Lisa operating system featured cooperative (non-preemptive) multitasking and virtual memory, then extremely advanced features for a personal computer. The use of virtual memory coupled with a fairly slow disk system made the system performance seem sluggish at times. Conceptually, the Lisa resembled the Xerox Star in the sense that it was envisioned as an office computing system; consequently, Lisa had two main user modes: the Lisa Office System and the Workshop. The Lisa Office System was the GUI environment for end users. The Workshop was a program development environment, and was almost entirely text based, though it used a GUI text editor. The Lisa Office System was eventually renamed "7/7", in reference to the seven supplied application programs: LisaWrite, LisaCalc, LisaDraw, LisaGraph, LisaProject, LisaList, and LisaTerminal.

Business blunder

The Apple Lisa turned out to be a commercial failure for Apple, the largest since the Apple III disaster of 1980. The intended business computing customers balked at Lisa's high price and largely opted to run less expensive (and less capable, with no true GUI and few object-oriented applications) IBM PCs, which were already beginning to dominate business desktop computing. The Lisa was also seen as being a bit slow in spite of its innovative interface. The nail in the coffin for Lisa was the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984, which helped discredit the Lisa since the Macintosh also had a GUI and mouse but was far less expensive. Two later Lisa models were released (the Lisa 2 and its Mac ROM-enabled sibling Macintosh XL) before the Lisa line was discontinued in August 1986.

At a time when 96 kilobytes of RAM was considered an extravagance, much of the Lisa's high price tag—and therefore its commercial failure—can be attributed to the large amount of RAM the system came with. Most personal computers didn't begin shipping with megabyte-sized RAM until the mid-to-late 1980s.

Historical importance

Though generally considered a commercial failure, the Lisa was in one respect a marked success. Though too expensive and limited for individual desktops, there was a period of time when it seemed that nearly every moderate-sized organization had one or two (shared) Lisas in each major office. Though the performance of the Lisa was somewhat slow and the software rather limited, what the Lisa did, it did well. Using the Lisa software and an Apple dot-matrix printer one could produce some very nice documents (compared to the other options available at the time). This one compelling usage drove the Lisa into a lot of larger offices and due to the price the number of people who had used a Lisa was much larger than the number of Lisas sold. This meant that when the lower-priced Macintosh came along, there was a notable pool of people pre-sold on the benefits of a GUI-based personal computer and the so-called WIMP interface (windows, icons, mouse, pointer) with its point-click-copy-paste and drag-and-drop capabilities between different applications and windows.

International significance

Within a few months of the Lisa introduction in the US, fully translated versions of the software and documentation were commercailly available for British, French, German, Italian, and Spanish markets, followed by several Scandinavian versions shortly thereafter. The user interface for the OS, all seven applications, LisaGuide, and the Lisa diagnostics (in ROM) could be fully translated, without any programming required, using resource files and a translation kit. The keyboard would identify its native language layout, and the entire user experience would be in that language, including any hardware diagnostic messages.

Each localized version (built on a globalized core) required grammatical, linguistic, and cultural adaptations throughout the user interface, including formats for dates, numbers, times, currencies, sorting, and even for word and phrase order in alerts and dialog boxes. Translation work was done by native-speaking Apple marketing staff in each country. This localization effort resulted in about as many Lisa unit sales outside the US as inside the US over the product lifespan, while setting new standards for future localized software products, and for global project coordination.

The end of Lisa

In 1987, Sun Remarketing purchased about 5,000 Macintosh XLs and upgraded them. Some leftover Lisa computers and spare parts are still available even today.

In 1989, Apple buried about 2,700 unsold Lisas at a landfill in Logan, Utah and got a tax write-off on the land they rented for it.

Like other early GUI computers, working Lisas are now fairly valuable collectors items, for which people will pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

source: wikipedia

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