Mountain View, CA – Jan. 19, 2023: The Computer History Museum (CHM), the leading museum exploring the history of computing and its impact on the human experience, today announced the public release and long-term preservation of the source code for the Apple Lisa, including its system and applications software, as part of its Art of Code series. Forty years ago today, Apple, Inc. released the Lisa computer, a milestone in computing history for its innovative use of a graphical user interface (GUI) in a personal computer (PC).
The Apple Lisa shipped with a suite of applications including a word processor, spreadsheet, and charts—bundled with the system—which discouraged third party developers from writing their own software for it. The Lisa’s GUI was inspired by elements from Xerox PARC’s Smalltalk system, but also included new innovations that were validated by user testing. The Lisa sold for $9,995, two years after Xerox had released a commercial GUI-based workstation – the Star – for $16,595, which was similarly targeted towards office workers. The high price of both machines compared to the IBM PC, a command-line based PC released two years earlier and that retailed for $1,565, resulted in their eventual demise.
Following Lisa’s launch in 1983, the Lisa 2 series was announced in January 1984 alongside the Apple Macintosh (known today as “Mac”). The Macintosh competed with Lisa and ultimately became the favored computer for its lower price and open software ecosystem. Other GUI-based operating systems like Windows were released after the Lisa and the Macintosh and were heavily influenced by both.
Hansen Hsu, Curator of the Software History Center at the Computer History Museum, said, “The release of the Apple Lisa was a key turning point for the history of personal computers. Without the Lisa, today’s computers might not use mouse-driven GUIs, and perhaps the Macintosh, and even Microsoft Windows, might not exist either. We’re thrilled to publicly release the source code for the Apple Lisa—for the first time—and thank Apple, Inc. for their permission and support that led to this release.”
For download options and more information about the release of this historic source code, please visit the blog post here and or download the source code here. For more information on the Art of Code series please visit the site here.
About CHM Software Source Code
The Computer History Museum has the world’s most diverse archive of software and related material. The stories of software’s origins and impact on the world provide inspiration and lessons for the future to global audiences—including young coders and entrepreneurs. The Museum has released other historic source code such as APPLE II DOS, IBM APL, Apple MacPaint and QuickDraw, and Adobe Photoshop. Visit our website to learn more.
The Computer History Museum’s mission is to decode technology—the computing past, digital present, and future impact on humanity. From the heart of Silicon Valley, we share insights gleaned from our research, our events, and our incomparable collection of computing artifacts and oral histories to convene, inform, and empower people to shape a better future.
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