Apple to release source code for Lisa operating system in 2018

Source code for Apple’s historic Lisa OS to be made available in 2018

Great news for software preservationists and Apple historians

The source code for Apple’s ill-fated Lisa operating system and some of its key applications will be released to the general public in 2018.

Jobs reportedly got the idea for the Lisa OS after seeing visual interfaces with mouse support during a visit to Xerox PARC. Jobs took what he saw and made his own version of it—the Lisa operating system featuring a GUI, mouse support, and a file system. While the Lisa computer wasn’t as popular as Jobs hoped it would be, its operating system was a blueprint for the many graphic OSes available today.

Emulators that run the Lisa OS have been available for some time now, but enthusiasts will be excited to explore the operating system’s original source code on their own. Kossow notes that the only thing that likely won’t be released is the American Heritage Dictionary for the spell checker in LisaWrite. But spell-checking your own work is a small price to pay for free access to a major piece of computer history.

The Apple Lisa (an acronym for Local Integrated System Architecture) launched in 1983 as one of the first personal computers with a graphical user interface. Equipped with a 5MHz Motorola 68000 CPU, 1MB of RAM and a 5MB hard drive, the system – named after Steve Jobs’ daughter – sold for a steep $9,995. The high price tag combined with subpar performance and unreliable floppy disks resulted in poor sales as Apple was only able to move 100,000 units over its lifetime.

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