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Apple Lisa, the first (modern) GUI


Interesting article on the 40 year old Apple Lisa (arstechnica), one of the first computers for the public with a GUI. It's impressive how similar it is to modern Apple OS's -- but also to Windows:

Apple Lisa, the first (modern) GUI

The Lisa was a very capable machine. It costed almost the equivalent of $30k in todays money though ($10k at the time). The first Mac that came out shortly later was a lot cheaper, but very limited in comparison:

The seven applications bundled with the Lisa were remarkably full-featured at the time. LisaWrite, the word processor, includes a dictionary and spell checker, and it supports multiple fonts. Everything can be copied and pasted between apps, which is even more amazing since copy/paste didn’t exist yet and had to be invented by Larry Tesler. I could draw a simple ... logo in LisaDraw and easily copy it into my LisaWrite document.


Hitting its cost target was a good thing for the Mac, which sold much better than the Lisa. But it turned the computer into a less functional machine. Multitasking was gone—the original Mac could only run one application at a time. Autosaving was also gone, as was virtual memory and memory protection and Lisa OS’s resilient file system. It took many years for these features to return, by which time the price of both memory and hard drives had plummeted. In an alternate universe, the Lisa’s price could have steadily decreased while its capabilities kept growing. For example, the Lisa team had plans to extend the single level of undo to an unlimited undo.
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When I was a teenager there was an Apple Lisa at the McGraw Hill bookstore in midtown in NYC that my father and I used to walk to.. It was such a beautiful alluring piece of alien technology.

I actually owned a Lisa XL (3.5" 400k diskdrive and 10 MB harddrive) for a while, somewhere in the 1988-1989 time-range. But, working on the PC-side of IT, I didn't use it much (if any), so ended up selling it, way too cheap, at a local computer-fair. Made that guy's day, I guess :tellme:


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