Lisa computer retrospective - Part 2 of 7 from David Craig on 2001-01-04 (lisalist1)

Lisa computer retrospective - Part 2 of 7

From: David Craig <dcraig_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 17:30:11 -0700

THE APPLE LISA COMPUTER: A RETROSPECTIVEPART 2 OF 7Apple supplied three different printers for Lisa, all capable ofprinting exactly what the user saw on the screen. The dot-matrixprinter could print both high-resolution text and graphics. Thedaisy-wheel printer was unique in that it could also printgraphics, though the ribbon was used up very quickly for thistask. Later in the Lisa's life Canon provided a color inkjetprinter for it. Apple appears to have had plans to support alaser printer with the Lisa, but these plans were abandoned,although Apple did have a $30,000 in-house laser printer whichwas used by the Lisa developers.Apple's internal software development centered around the LisaMonitor environment, which was text-based, and resembled theenvironments Apple provided for its Apple II and Apple IIIcomputer systems. The majority of Lisa programs were written inthe Pascal language by Apple, except for a few written in 68000assembler. A COBOL and a BASIC were also available. To give anidea of the size of this effort: The Lisa operating systemsource contained about 90,000 lines of Pascal, and the OfficeSystem applications contained approximately 50,000 lines each.The programmers used a wonderful window- and mouse-based editorcalled LisaEdit. Outside developers were offered a developmentkit called the Lisa Workshop, a descendant of the Lisa Monitorenvironment. With the Workshop a programmer could develop rathersophisticated programs, primarily in Pascal.A major software development effort by Apple focused on the LisaDesktop Libraries, a collection of about 100 software moduleswhich provided the software foundation for Lisa Technology.These modules were used by all Lisa programs and were themainstay of the Lisa's consistent user interface. A keycomponent of the Desktop Libraries was QuickDraw, a fast andversatile graphics module written in around 40,000 lines of68000 assembly language.During the Lisa's rather short life, very few programs werewritten for it by outside developers who could exploit itsrevolutiona r
y user interface. The main reason for this was thelack of any fairly simple development environment that wouldallow outside developers to write "Lisa-like" programs without atremendous amount of technical knowledge. After Apple developedthe major Lisa programs, they attempted to develop a universal"framework" for programming called the Lisa ToolKit; butdevelopment of this, though basically finished, was halted whenApple withdrew resources from Lisa software development toaccelerate Macintosh development. Apple had also not documentedfully, nor designed in an easily understandable fashion, thecode which formed the basis for the software component of LisaTechnology. Finally, third-party developers hesitated to committo the Lisa given its high perceived price and its low salesnumbers.A major headache for Apple during the development effort was thepair of Twiggy disk drives in each Lisa. The single 5.25-inchhigh density floppy (860K bytes) with software-controlledautomatic ejection and micro-stepping technology proved a littletoo revolutionary, and held back the Lisa schedule. Afterintroduction Apple wisely abandoned Twiggy in favor of the new,more reliable 3.5 inch Sony micro-floppy drives with 400K bytesper disk. Complementing the floppy drives was a ProFile harddisk drive with 5M bytes capacity, originally offered for theApple III. A 10M byte ProFile was later developed by Apple forthe Lisa 2.Apple spent a lot of time during Lisa's development testing Lisafeatures with real users. Apple's literature on this topic showsthat the Lisa developers were occasionally surprised by the usertesting results, but the end product of these tests was a betterLisa system. Apple also gave high priority to understandableforeign language translations for the Lisa software, developinga useful technical solution to the problem of "localization"through Phrase files which contained all the phrases that a Lisaprogram could display to the user. With access to the Phrasefiles, a translator with minimal computer skills could translatethe p
rogram's messages and create a national-language version,without having to delve into the highly technical underlyingsource code. The Lisa at power-on also supported foreignlanguage diagnostic messages, which could be keyed in from thekeyboard.Apple projected sales of 10,000 Lisas in the last half of 1983and 40,000 in 1984. In retrospect, Apple was able to sell around80,000 Lisas during its 18 month life -- an average of 4,500units a month or 13,000 per quarter, figures very close toinitial sales projections. (I believe Apple's sales were lessthan expected in the first months after the Lisa's introduction,but sales picked up near the end of the Lisa's life).DEVELOPMENT RISKS-------------------------------------------------Apple confronted several significant risks with Lisa'sintroduction.On the technical front, the software development effort wasimmense, and could easily have delayed the introduction. TheTwiggy disk drive proved barely workable, but the more reliableSony 3.5 inch disk drives were substituted
.. The Lisa's printingtechnology was a risk, since Apple was basically trying to getdot-matrix and daisy-wheel printers to emulate a high-resolutionlaser printer. Font and printer problems were eventuallyresolved.On the business front, Apple had several very high hurdles tojump. The company was unable to invest enough time in helpingoutside developers. The seven programs of the Office System werebasically all the programs Apple had for the Lisa'sintroduction. Product planners were on the dangerous edge ofconfusing the Lisa and Macintosh product lines. Finally, Apple'sdata communications strategy appeared primitive; Apple diddevelop a network for the Lisa, called AppleBus (laterAppleTalk,) but Lisa networking never achieved popularity withusers.After a year with the Lisa product line, Apple's management cameto the conclusion that Apple could only support one line ofcomputer with a graphical interface. Lisa lost out to theMacintosh. The Lisa's name was changed to Macintosh XL (quotedvariously as standing for " Ex
tra Large" or "X-Lisa"). In April1985 the Lisa was discontinued and the Macintosh became Apple'stop-end computer; after the discontinuation Apple supported theLisa hardware with a 5-year program of spare parts and repairservices.To ease the transition to the Macintosh, Apple developed aprogram called MacWorks that allowed the Lisa to run mostcontemporary Macintosh programs. MacWorks supported Apple'sstrategy: to sell its remaining inventory of Lisas to theMacintosh public, which desired a Macintosh more powerful thanthe original 128K and 512K models.The bulk of Apple's remaining Lisa inventory was sold to a Utahcompany called Sun Remarketing. (3) Sun continues to sell theLisa today as a Macintosh. Apple's final Lisa collection wasplaced in a landfill by Apple several years ago; I'm not certainof the reason for this, but believe it may have been a result ofa lawsuit concerning the Lisa brought by several Applestockholders.The Lisa legacy at Apple is still somewhat alive, at least in aphysical sense. The Apple  Corporate Museum houses a fewfunctioning Lisas for display purposes, but I believe they maybe running Macintosh rather than Lisa software. [Unfortunately,the Apple Museum is currently closed indefinitely. -- Ed.]END OF PART 2

> Regards,
> David T. Craig
> ###########################################################
> # David T. Craig -- CyberWolf Inc. -- ACI 4D Developer #5
> # Aspen Plaza, 1596 Pacheco, Suite 203
> # Santa Fe, NM 87505 USA
> # voice 505.983.6463 ext 15 -- fax 505.988.2580
> # dcraig_at_email.domain.hidden
> ###########################################################

MacResQ Specials: LaCie SCSI CDR From $99! PowerBook 3400/200 Only $879! Norton AntiVirus 6 Only $19! We Stock PARTS! <>

Shop and save. < stat?id=O7sajHhUCjc&offerid=13541.10000001&type=1&subid=0>

    / Buy books, CDs, videos, and more from \    / <> \ - - - - - - - - - -
This message is sent to you because you are subscribed to LisaList.

List info               <>
Send list messages to:  <mailto:lisalist_at_email.domain.hidden>
To unsubscribe, email:  <mailto:lisalist-off_at_email.domain.hidden>
For digest mode, email: <mailto:lisalist-digest_at_email.domain.hidden>
Subscription questions: <mailto:listmom_at_email.domain.hidden>
List archive:           <>

Host your mailing list for free at Maclaunch Received on 2001-01-04 16:28:37

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : 2020-01-13 12:15:18 EST