The Apple Lisa was one of the very first commercial computers to come equipped with a graphical user interface, and soon the operating system that ran on the Lisa will be available for free, starting next year. According to a new report from Business Insider, the Computer History Museum plans to release the Apple Lisa operating system as an open-source project.
Released in January 1983, nearly three decades ago, Apple LISA (Local Integrated System Architecture) was a famous Apple flop, selling only 10,000 units on a $150 million R&D investment. It was a cutting-edge machine and one of the first to offer consumers a GUI, mouse, and file system, but it was prohibitively expensive and didn’t catch on. Adjusted for inflation, it cost almost $25,000 at the time. But it’s still an important moment in Apple history – It set the stage for a conflict between CEO John Sculley and Cofounder Steve Jobs that ultimately led to Jobs leaving Apple.
But this doesn’t mean that Lisa’s pioneering operating system is completely dead. Al Kossow, a Software Curator at the Computer History Museum, recently announced that source code for Lisa’s operating system and applications has been recovered and a conversion of the code is currently under review by Apple. He wrote that after the review is done, they will release a text on the significance of the Lisa project and make the code available for all in 2018. The news was announced via the LisaList mailing list for Lisa enthusiasts.
As the code behind the Apple Lisa operating system will be available as open source, anyone would be free to modify it and create something new – just like Linux and other open source operating systems.
You can check out the old Apple Lisa commercial below.
In 1984, Apple launched Lisa 2, which failed to do some magic as well, and the company discontinued the product after launching Macintosh – a more affordable, improved version of the Lisa.