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Author Topic: audible apple lisa podcast - meh  (Read 173 times)

rayarachelian

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audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« on: March 31, 2021, 12:31:59 pm »

Just discovered that audible has a computer history podcast here: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-History-of-Computing-Podcast/episodes/B08JJPXWZS

and there's an episode about the Lisa here: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Apple-Lisa-Podcast/B08VNHPT7N ~16mins

Seems a bit, um,"fluffy", it's not terribly off factually, but it doesn't go deep, instead, it glosses over a lot of stuff that made the Lisa important, saying the Lisa project ran over budget like most projects at Apple would for the next 10 years, and ignores most of the innovation and development of the Lisa and jumps to the end, only mentioning sales and R&D costs. To be fair, it does mention that the Mac couldn't have existed without the Lisa, but just barely.

It also lionizes the original Mac 128K, ignoring the horrors of having to repeatedly swap floppies, and how useless it was without an external floppy drive and only 128K of RAM. Rather, saying of the Mac that "the machine was faster, OS was cleaner, it was prettier, and software developers flocked to it, was smaller, boxier, it was just better." That may have been true after the 512KE, and certainly around the era of the Mac Plus where hard drives started to be more common, and these machines had finally gotten more RAM.

So this is coming from someone who hasn't experienced, or researched these machines, but rather is summarizing some unmentioned sources.

If you were to set up an original Mac 128 without an external floppy and the first mac System it shipped with and tried to do anything with it, you'd want to shoot yourself at the amount of floppy swapping you needed to do. As slow as a Lisa was, a Lisa with an external profile is very usable and functional, and nowhere near as annoying, and moving stuff from LisaDraw to LisaWrite is a pleasure.
Trying to copy and paste from MacPaint/Draw to MacWrite on a Mac 128 will cause you to want to pull your hair out. (It's not so terrible if you have an external floppy, or use a 512KE, or a 512KE with the HD20 but those came much later.)

Even lacking access to a real Mac 128, he might have set up mini vMac and limit it to 128K and then started to use it to see what it was like vs Lisa Office System, and it would have given him first hand experience in the subject matter. Or he could have asked people who had experienced both. Rather he just bought in to what was in print before, most likely based off PR from Apple.

Narration is slow and it feels like it's being read, much like most Audible books - that's not a knock against it, as much as contrast to most podcasts I listen to, which sound more like a conversation rather than a teleprompter or book reading. At one point the reader/author mis-pronounced "Palo Alto" as "Pay-loh Alto" instead of "Pah-Loh Alto", ignoring it's Spanish etymology.

My personal rating for this is 1 classic Homer Simpson "Meh::)

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MickeyScott1

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2021, 11:04:37 pm »

I had a Macintosh 128, and the next Mac I bought was the Mac XL that I have described in the forum.

The Mac 128 did not work well with Mac Write. I found that WriteNow worked better. With an external floppy drive, the disk swapping was reduced. In fairness to the Mac 128, personal computers were generally primitive back then in the early 1980s, so I guess the Mac 128 was all right. I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley, and Macs were everywhere in the computer lab, so it was possible to use a laser printer to print a term paper when these printers were still rare, and not yet easily available for the IBM PC.

(Woz was a student at UC Berkeley back then, and told one of my professors who bought a Mac, "You should have bought an IBM PC.")

As an old man, (58 years old), it is frustrating to see people making videos or podcasts who did not have the experience with a Mac 128 in 1984!

But again, at the time, 1984, the Mac 128 was a cool machine compared to text based computers. Recall, CP/M computers were still popular back then!!
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rayarachelian

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2021, 03:21:34 pm »

Oh wow, this one got it right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e74F0gVuTs
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Al Kossow

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2021, 04:33:04 pm »

folklore.org and the canonization of the Magnificent Seven have cemented that Macintosh was genius in everyone's mind.

I wish something similar for Lisa could exist, but I've never been able to get anyone to talk in any detail about the
project. He and his "A, B, C" player speech to the Lisa team as he gutted it left a permanent scar on everyone.


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rayarachelian

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2021, 05:08:41 pm »

folklore.org and the canonization of the Magnificent Seven have cemented that Macintosh was genius in everyone's mind.

I wish something similar for Lisa could exist, but I've never been able to get anyone to talk in any detail about the
project. He and his "A, B, C" player speech to the Lisa team as he gutted it left a permanent scar on everyone.

I agree. I'm not of the opinion that the Mac was terrible, or bad, it certainly was very much usable by the time the Mac Plus was released and System 6 with MultiFinder was made available. I certainly have wonderful fond memories of using MacWorks, and later a IIcx and IIci, etc.

But still many of the features that were in the Lisa were lost, or reversed, or ignored, and for years the Lisa was considered nothing more than an expensive flop, which is far from reality.

There certainly was a lot of weird, inefficient code in the Lisa from what I've seen in disassemblies, but there's nothing there that's terrible and bad and somehow magically perfect and brilliant in the Mac. One very interesting thing classic MacOS has is the resource manager. It was dumped around the time of the PPC and didn't exist in the LOS, but it was a very interesting, useful concept. It could have been developed further into a full fledged database, but there was even a tech note warning people not to think of it as a database. That, I think was a missed opportunity.

I did notice that LOS has a lot of unixisms, perhaps purposely changed to be different from actual unix, such as the file paths, but you can tell a lot of thought and good design went into it.

I really hope that David Greelish will finish his documentary on the Lisa, it would be a good start to reversing the perception that the Mac was brilliant and the Lisa wasn't. Unfortunately Larry Tesler didn't agree to be interviewed for it in time, and so his stories and views about it were permanently lost to history outside of what was already published.

The early posts on folklore.org where the Mac and the Lisa are being developed are also a good start. Some of the rest was ofc, pettiness, politics and revenge.

I guess, as usual, the winners write the history books. But perhaps this can be changed.
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stepleton

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2021, 06:26:25 pm »

Is there a way I can find out more about the "A, B, C" player speech?

I know very little about personal stories about "what it was like" to develop the Lisa, outside from the scraps on folklore.org and the like. This situation feels like a corollary to the "success has many parents" adage.
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rayarachelian

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Al Kossow

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2021, 01:26:12 pm »

Unfortunately Larry Tesler didn't agree to be interviewed for it in time, and so his stories and views about it were permanently lost to history outside of what was already published.

--

Larry and Chris Espinosa gave a talk on the development of Lisa at CHM just before Larry resigned as Apple's chief scientist, a video exists of that one.
I was at an internal version of that talk, and asked LOTS of questions. I keep hoping it was taped and wound up in Stanford's collection when the Apple
Library was closed. Other than Rich Page, I haven't been able to get anyone from the Lisa team to talk to me about the project in the past 10 years.
I think David Craig's historical material is going to end up being the best surviving generally available history of the project.
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rayarachelian

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2021, 03:25:43 pm »

I think David Craig's historical material is going to end up being the best surviving generally available history of the project.

Funnily enough, DTC's materials were the first I saw, and they are the most extensive. But, they're mostly memos, internal docs, etc. There's no day to day war stories and anecdotes, like you see off folklore.org like "Too Big For His Britches" or the one about mustaches and managers.

From Tesler, I would have liked to know and understand how the Xerox PARC projects morphed into the Lisa, how that flowed from one project to the other, what decisions were made and how, what was the thinking process behind those decisions, was it something at the team level or was it individual sparks of inspiration and what caused those... There's probably a ton of stuff there that the public doesn't know that could be useful to learn from. I'm sure some of it is documented, and much is lost.

I mentioned this elsewhere on here, but Dan Kotke mentioned in "Valley of Genius" that the Lisa was named "Lisa" as a snub to Steve Jobs, and so that explains why once kicked off the Lisa team, he went all Bender "I'm going to go build my own theme park, with blackjack and hookers," in the form of the Mac as revenge. It also explains why in "Small Fry" when Lisa Jobs asked Steve if he had named the Lisa after her, he said no, but when Bono asked if the Lisa was named after her (not if Jobs named it after her) he said yes.

That little tiny bit that leaked out in that book explains the whole Pirates vs Navy thing and the Mac project. Other stuff from Fire in the Valley and "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" explain quite a lot more about his vindictive/abusive nature.
The same thing happened to the Newton, and a decade later after killing the Newton off, he built an iPad. The supposed excuse being that real computers have keyboards, ignoring the terrible keyboards phones and tablets have on-screen.
Both the Lisa and the Newton were way ahead of their time. The Newton after the 130 was very usable. The Lisa would have done a lot better if it was released in 1985 instead of 1983, when RAM prices were much lower...

While he's had a big positive influence on Apple, he turned it very much evil by closing things off. The lack of expansion slots in the original Mac, and modern day Macs, the closed walled off garden of the iPhone with the store, and the de-generalizing of the macos into a walled garden with a gatekeeper, signed and notarized binaries, monopolistic stores, glued in batteries, soldered in RAM, and SSD storage, a general disregard for recycling and repairability, etc.
Granted when he did return to Apple, Apple did have too many models, all alike and needed a clean up, it did need a new Mac OS, and for a while they had kept backwards compatibility with System 9 in macos x. But then they removed it after 10.5.
I suspect we'll see a similar removal of x86_64 compatibility in future macos or M1.5/M2 releases after getting most people to switch over. (This ofc effectively killed off the hackintoshes as well, or will do so once x86_64 is no longer supported.) and then we'll have to run things in emulators again.
Seeing the 2012 retina Macs with their super glarey glossy screens, and glued in batteries and soldered in RAM is what sealed the deal for me to move fully to Linux. It took until 2017 for me to do that as that's when my 2011 17' died. But yeah. At some point the negatives add up to too much and scales tip to "not worth it anymore."

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Al Kossow

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Re: audible apple lisa podcast - meh
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2021, 12:35:56 am »

" I would have liked to know and understand how the Xerox PARC projects morphed into the Lisa"

They didn't.

Lisa internally had much more influence from HP people than PARC people.
There were a LOT of ex HP people in the Lisa division.

The intro of Star was more of an influence on the UI than PARC/Smalltalk



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