Re: Got a Lisa! Now I need to get it running.

From: Ray Arachelian <ray_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 08:08:44 -0400

NateSpin wrote:
> Hey, I just picked up a Apple Lisa 2 off a local craigslisting for
> $100. I am not sure if that is a good deal or not, but I have never
> used or seen a Lisa before and thought it would be neat. I do have a
> few vintage macs (Macintosh Classic, LCIII, Powerbook 1400cs). It was
> listed as turning on but not booting. I have done an inventory and
> here is what I have.

Oh, that is a very good deal. Congratulations!

The Lisa is a very historically important machine, take good care of it as it can be valuable if in good shape. You easily have over $1000 of stuff there if you were to buy it on eBay, even if it's not all in great shape.

You mentioned "Some really large disks." If they're about 5.25" and have two openings on them, those are twiggy media, and are extremely rare items. Are they original installation media for the Lisa? If so, even more valuable. see:

The Lisa ran several operating systems. I suggest you try Lisa Office System if you have the disks for it. MacWorks is sort of like an emulator, but not quite. Well, in modern terms, more like WINE. It allowed a Lisa to run early Mac System software and become the equivalent of a slightly slower Mac Plus with a larger monitor and no sound.

You also seem to have the development environment, Lisa Pascal Workshop, or at least manuals for those, these are useful if you want to program.

I've never seen the Lisa Fact Book, is that a real book or is that a printout? It might have value if it's a real book, not some later/recent print out.

Is any of the other software for the Lisa Office System, or are they for the Mac?

There's a list of frequently asked questions about the Lisa here: which will tell you lots of things about the Lisa. I suggest that you switch to the single page version the first time around and save/print a copy of it (I'm going to be working on the server today, so it'll be offline at some point in the afternoon.)

If you're interested in the history of the Lisa and the Mac, try here: which is Andy Hertzfeld's site.

If you just want to play/mess around with a Lisa, you can try the emulator instead so you don't harm your Lisa. You can find that here: but note that it will not run MacWorks at this time.

Before you do anything to erase the operating system already on the Lisa (I suspect it may be Lisa Workshop or Office System since you mentioned the date), see if there's anything interesting on the hard drive and back it up. You'll need a bunch of 3.5" double sided double density floppies - which can be hard to find at times. To backup an entire 10M hard drive, you'll need something like 25 of these, so see if you can back up just the interesting applications/documents instead.

Please be as careful as possible when working with your Lisa, it's a very old and possibly fragile machine. Try not to leave it plugged in, and the less often you power it on, the better off you are. Please get your hands on a good quality UPS and only plug your Lisa into the UPS. This is because spikes/brown outs can cause harm to the Lisa's power supply and spare power supplies are difficult to get.

Once you get over the "Wow" factor, and have made backups of everything, please keep your Lisa unplugged. Store it away from humidity and light, and away from fluorescent lighting (as that causes the case to yellow.)

Don't let the Lisa get too hot, make sure that you have either a fan aimed at it, or an air conditioner running, but here's the thing, when air conditioners start their compressors, they cause a brief brown out which can hurt hard drives, so that's another reason why you'd want to plug it into a UPS.

Don't power the Lisa on and off many times. You're better off turning it on for a long stretch of time and shutting it off when you're done instead of power it on for a few minutes, then shutting it off and repeating that several times.

It's very good that you have other classic Mac's as they'll be useful in copying/creating disk images. Find yourself a copy of DiskCopy 4.2 and DART as well as copies of classic StuffIt Expander's and CompactPro as you're likely to run into Lisa software compressed/encoded by these. Note that Disk Copy 4.2 images are preferred over DART, since DiskCopy does a better job of producing disks usable on a Lisa. The process of getting disk images off the internet and onto a real Lisa is sometimes a bit of a pain however. You can find copies of this software at: and as well as other places.

You'll also need a bunch of 3.5" double sided double density floppies. In a pinch you might be able to use high density 3.5" floppies with a bit of tape covering the sense hole on the opposite side of the read/write "switch", but you're better off with the real thing.

You'll want to use a Mac that has an ethernet network card in it so that you can transfer the disk images back and forth from your more modern machines/various internet archives, see if you can get an ethernet card for one of your classic Mac's if at all possible.

> Now, the problems.
> 1) The screen is really shaky, like an analog TV tuned into the wrong
> channel. It occasionally stabilizes, but is on the verge of shaking
> again. Is there any way to adjust it?

Do you mean that the screen is jumping up and down? If so, try twisting the vertical hold knob back and forth on the back of the Lisa. It might just mean that the potentiometer that controls vertical hold is dirty.

If you mean side to side wiggling, it could be a power supply issue. Can you look over on the back and see if you have a 1.8A power supply? You might need to remove the cover, which you can do after unplugging the power cord, by twisting the two knobs at the top and pulling it down.

If it is a 1.8A power supply, that's a good thing if you have an internal hard drive. According to the list, you said you did (Widget), and you'll need it as the 1.2A doesn't have quite enough power to run the Widget drive and the Lisa.

While it may be a problem in the video circuitry instead, this kind of waving is most likely caused by a weak power supply. Usually, changing the capacitors helps. Note that doing so requires soldering skills, don't try on the Lisa if you've never done this before as you're likely to hurt yourself and the Lisa.

Capacitors tend to dry out/leak and if your Lisa has not had those replaced, they're likely about to go as they're over 20 years old. Don't panic if this happens, it's a fairly easy repair, but again, you should be skilled with electronics repair before you attempt it.

There was a recent post here on Lisa Power supply repairs by Bill Vogel just a few days ago. It's worth a look:

> 2) The keyboard appears to be a bit flaky. Not sure if the connector
> is just dirty?

The keyboard connector is a normal 1/4" headphone jack. If you hit your local Radio Shack, you may find something like DeOxit or other electronics and contact cleaner, which you can use to wipe the connector with. However, you might have luck with a paper towel and alcohol.

It could also be that the keyboard jack (on the Lisa side) is dirty or loose. In that case you'd have to take the Lisa apart to fix it, not too easy. :-) I wouldn't spray anything into the Lisa however. You might have luck with a cotton swap dipped into contact cleaner, but be careful to not use too much as you don't want it dripping inside the Lisa, and you most certainly don't want the cotton swab to break off and be stuck inside the jack or the Lisa.

> 3) After it boots, it ends up on a screen saying that the Current date/
> time is: Invalid and wants a new date. How do you put in 2007, it
> only takes a 2 digit year and won't take a 0 as the first number.

I'm afraid there's no way to fix that. The Lisa's clock cannot go past 1995. Set it to something like 1987.

Also look closely as the Lisa powers on. On the right hand upper corner, you'll see something flash, like H/88 or H/A8. This is the ROM version and it's useful to know what it is.

One very important thing to do. I'm fairly sure that you have a 2/10, which doesn't have a battery pack, but please check this: after shutting of your Lisa, unplug the power cord, then open the back panel. Twist the two latches at the top and pull the panel down. Look to see if there's something like a 4 pack of batteries at the bottom right of the circuit board you see when you immediately open the Lisa. If there is, has it leaked? If so, you're in a bit of trouble. If it hasn't leaked, carefully clip the connection to that pack using diagonal cutters to remove it.

The battery packs were in Lisa 2's, Lisa 2/5's and Lisa 1's, and meant to keep the date and time correct, however, due to their age, they leak, and when they do, they corrode the I/O board, destroying random things. I've had one Lisa whose COPS chip (the controller that runs the keyboard, mouse, clock and power switch) was ruined because of such a leak. COPS chips are impossible to find replacements for, except from other Lisa I/O boards.

I see that you've said "listed as not booting" but you were able to boot it. I'd be even more careful as to backing the machine up as quickly as possible, as that may mean that the Widget drive is marginal. Note that these are very hard to find, (even the external profile drives which are very common are hard to find on sale) although there are modern, but pricey, replacements for them.

Another common problem is that the floppy drive will sometimes get dirty and need cleaning. Do NOT use a head cleaning floppy! These will tear the bit of felt at the top of the floppy drive and render the drive useless! The Lisa uses single sided 400kb floppy drives and the top doesn't have a drive head, but rather a bit of felt to push the media down. Received on 2007-08-19 08:08:44

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