The Lisa is a rare GUI-based business computer released by Apple Computer, Inc. in 1983. There are two editions (Lisa I and Lisa II), while Lisa 2/10, was modified and later released as the Macintosh XL. The Lisa computer was more advanced than the later Macintosh 128/512K but it was far more expensive. Lisa 1 was sold for $9,995 which means around $29,000 in today’s money. Lisa 2 was less expensive.

  • It is estimated that around 10,000 Lisa units were sold (only 500 Lisa 1)

Lisa was officially abandoned in 1985, and in 1986, Apple offered all Lisa owners the chance to buy a Macintosh Plus with a hard disk by returning their Lisa and paying $1,498.


Apple argued that LISA was an acronym for "Locally Integrated Software Architecture", however, Lisa was also the name of Steve Jobs' first daughter (born in 1978).

  • Motorola 68000 CPU @ 5 MHz
  • 1 MB RAM and up to 2 MB (Lisa 2 offered 0.5 MB)
  • 16 KB Boot ROM
  • 5 MB hard drive (Lisa 2 offered 5/10 MB)
  • 12” built-in display (720 × 364, monochrome)
  • GUI (Graphical User Interface) and a hard-disk-oriented operating system
  • Cooperative multitasking and virtual memory
  • Protected memory (very innovative back then)
  • Two 5.25-inch double-sided FD drives (Lisa 2 used a single Sony 400k drive)
  • Expansion Port (Unlike the original Macintosh)

Note that the iconic Motorola 68000 CPU was later used in Macintosh (@ 7.89 MHz) but also in Commodore Amiga 500/600/1000/2000/CDTV, in Atari ST/STE, and even on arcade machines and the Sega Mega Drive.


The Short but Interesting History of Lisa Computers


The project Lisa began in 1978, Apple invested $50 million in its development by assembling a dedicated team of 10 people. Later, more than 90 people were involved in the Lisa design, plus a marketing team.

It is interesting that in 1979 Steve Jobs visited Xerox PARC and was inspired by innovations such as their mouse-driven GUI. By late 1979, Jobs got a deal with Xerox, he paid them in Apple stock, and in exchange, his Lisa team was able to investigate research projects at Xerox PARC. It is fair to say that if Apple gave birth to Lisa, XEROX was the father.

Lisa was repackaged and sold as Lisa 2 at a lower price tag.

Lisa 2

Lisa 2, was released in January 1984 and sold at a discount, for between $3,495 and $5,495. To reduce costs, Apple abandoned the twin floppy drives for a single 400k microfloppy (Sony). In addition, Lisa 2 was equipped with significantly less memory (0.5 MB) than Lisa 1. There were two editions available, one with a 5 MB hard disk (called the 2/5) and another with a 10 MB hard disk (2/10).

In early 1985, the Lisa 2/10 was rebranded as Macintosh XL, enabling it to reboot into Macintosh mode. The next year, in 1986, it was discontinued.

In 1989, Apple disposed of 2,700 unsold units in a landfill in Logan, Utah, for tax relief purposes (an unsold inventory write-off).


Lisa Usage & Notable Applications

Lisa incorporates two modes:

  • The Lisa Office System (the GUI environment) includes LisaCalc, LisaWrite, LisaDraw, LisaGraph, LisaList, LisaProject, and LisaTerminal.
  • The Workshop (a program development environment, using a GUI text editor)

NASA was Apple Lisa’s greatest customer. Lisa was used by NASA for project management (LisaProject).

In April 1984, Apple introduced MacWorks, which allowed the Lisa computers to run Macintosh software applications. In addition, Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) released Microsoft XENIX for Lisa 2 and the Multiplan spreadsheet on Lisa XENIX.

In 2018, the Computer History Museum announced it would release the source code for Lisa OS.


■ Apple Lisa 1/2

G.P. for 2022 (c)




□ MODELS » Apple Lisa » Apple II GS » Apple Mac
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