Lisa computer retrospective - Part 4 of 7

From: David Craig <dcraig_at_email.domain.hidden>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2001 16:26:37 -0700

> PART 4 OF 7
> -------------------------------------------------
> All Lisas provided a simple and effective method of protecting
> user programs from piracy, and data files from overly curious
> co-workers.
> When the user installed a new program, the Lisa "serialized" the
> disk copy of the program by writing the ROM-based serial number
> to the program floppy disk. The user of this disk would then be
> unable to copy this "protected master" program file to another
> Lisa. The user could still execute the protected program from
> the floppy disk, but this was tedious, given that Lisa programs
> tended to be large and floppy-disk-based program execution would
> try the patience of most users.
> Document protection was provided by passwording. The user could
> select a document icon with the mouse and, through a menu-driven
> dialog, obtain general information about the document. This
> information included the document's size and a field for the
> protection password. If the user typed a password into this
> field, the document was protected. When any user attempted to
> open a protected document, the Lisa displayed a dialog asking
> for the password.
> -------------------------------------------------
> The Lisa did not display physical file names to the user.
> Instead the Desktop Manager presented a "document name view"
> which allowed descriptive names with up to 63 characters. The
> underlying filesystem allowed file names up to 31 characters
> long, which could not contain the directory separator character
> "-". For each document the Desktop Manager maintained a user
> document name (e. g. "Vacation Plans - 1983") and a physical
> low-level file name (e. g. "{T3D456}").
> This non-physical file name scheme allowed the use of multiple
> documents with the same user-defined name, whose underlying
> physical file names were different. In this regard the Lisa
> mimicked the physical working desktop, where a worker might have
> five photocopies of the same document at the same time.
> To the best of my knowledge, no other currently available
> microcomputer supports non-physical document names.
> -------------------------------------------------
> The Lisa keyboard contained small pull-out firm plastic sheets
> of helpful information. The first sheet showed the keyboard
> itself and a layout of all the keys that the could be typed in
> combination with the Option key. Other cards gave concise
> information about Lisa operating features and techniques, such
> as how to copy documents. Another blank card allowed users to
> write down important personal information pertaining to the
> Lisa; for example, the phone number of the local Apple service
> center or representative.
> -------------------------------------------------
> The original Lisa contained 1 megabyte of physical memory, with
> about half of it used for the Lisa Desktop Manager and the
> Desktop Libraries. A sophisticated hardware-based memory
> virtualization allowed Lisa programs to access more memory than
> was physically installed. This strategy also allowed the Lisa to
> segregate executing programs so that they could not access other
> programs' data at inappropriate times. If memory protection was
> violated, the Lisa would stop the errant application and alert
> the user that the program had been terminated.
> -------------------------------------------------
> Through the Environments Window, Lisa provided a simple method
> for the computer to run radically different operating
> environments. On boot-up, Lisa ran a special low-level program
> called the Environment Selector, which located and ran a default
> operating environment, if one was present. Otherwise, the
> Selector displayed a window allowing the user to select a run-
> time environment. Apple supplied two different environments: the
> Office System environment for non-technical end users, and the
> Workshop environment for programmers. Other companies supplied
> additional environments, e. g. an implementation of UNIX.
> -------------------------------------------------
> Lisa screen contrast could be adjusted by the user with a
> special program called Preferences. This program also allowed
> the user to define a duration of inactivity, after which the
> screen would automatically dim and lessen contrast. This feature
> prevented screen "burn-in," which happens when screen images at
> high contrast "burn into" the screen's phosphors. The Lisa
> automatically, gradually dimmed the screen in pleasing
> increments -- a nice touch on Apple's part which prevented a
> jarring change in screen brightness and contrast.
> -------------------------------------------------
> For users who dealt with sensitive data, the Lisa provided a
> simple screen privacy feature. The user could press Option-
> Shift-[numeric keypad zero] at any time and the screen would
> immediately dim.
> -------------------------------------------------
> The Lisa, when powered on, ran a special hardware self-test
> which made certain that it could safely run user programs and
> manipulate user data. Hardware failure would trigger a specific
> failure error number which could be used by an Apple service
> center to isolate the defective part.
> During these diagnostic tests (which took around 3 minutes to
> execute) the Lisa displayed icons and messages to the user. The
> messages could appear in either English, French, or German,
> according to which keyboard was attached; Lisa keyboards were
> self-identifying and provided the Lisa with information
> including the keyboard "language". For example, if the keyboard
> was a German keyboard, then all diagnostic messages appeared in
> German.
> Unfortunately, this language-sensing compatibility didn't extend
> to the menus of Office System applications and programs like
> LisaWrite!
> -------------------------------------------------
> Lisa firmware contained a "service mode" which could be
> activated when the computer was powered on; this special feature
> allowed the knowledgeable user to run additional diagnostic
> tests. Also supported was a cross-hatch display pattern which
> made it easier to adjust the screen contrast.
> -------------------------------------------------
> Any subassembly of a Lisa, except for dangerous portions like
> the monitor CRT, could be disassembled by the end-user, readily
> and with few if any tools. For example, users could remove and
> replace a disk drive with ease by just gripping the tabs at the
> base of the front panel, popping the front off, and unscrewing a
> single screw which held the drive in place.
> -------------------------------------------------
> When Apple planned to discontinue Lisa, the company was left
> without a high-end system. All Apple had to offer at the time
> was the Macintosh 128K or 512K models, which were more compact
> than the Lisa but lacked the appeal of its bigger screen, bigger
> memory, and hard disk.
> Apple's hardware and software engineers quickly developed a
> special program named MacWorks that allowed a Lisa owner to turn
> that computer into a "big" Macintosh. Apple produced three
> versions of MacWorks before turning over all MacWorks
> development to Sun Remarketing (see endnote).
> Apple combined the new MacWorks with a renamed Lisa called the
> Macintosh XL. This gambit sold a rather surprising (to Apple)
> number of Lisas. MacWorks is still a commercial product for Sun
> Remarketing, which went on to develop an enhanced MacWorks Plus
> that lets a Lisa emulate a Macintosh Plus. (I wonder how many
> Lisas/Macintosh XLs Sun really sells now, but the company has
> been prodigious in developing and producing XL hardware
> peripherals, including larger hard disks and a board that allows
> SCSI devices to work with the XL.)
> Apple solved the problem of transferring Lisa data to a
> Macintosh with the Macintosh XL Migration Kit, consisting of a
> special Lisa program called Lisa-to-Macintosh and a set of
> Macintosh data conversion programs. The Lisa program (primarily)
> wrote Lisa data files to a Macintosh disk; the Macintosh data
> conversion programs took the resulting files and converted them
> to Macintosh data files in an appropriate format. For example,
> LisaWrite documents could be converted to either MacWrite or
> Microsoft Word files for use by the Macintosh.
> 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
> ###########################################################

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