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Apple To Release Lisa OS For Free As Open Source In 2018 (iphoneincanada.ca) 95

New submitter Jose Deras writes: Nearly 35 years ago, Apple released its first computer with a graphical user interface, called the Lisa. Starting next year, the Computer History Museum will release the Apple Lisa OS for free as an open-source project. According to a new report from Business Insider, the Computer History Museum will release the code behind the Apple Lisa operating system for free as open source, for anyone to try and tinker with. The news was announced via the LisaList mailing list for Lisa enthusiasts.

"While Steve Jobs didn't create the Lisa, he was instrumental in its development. It was Jobs who convinced the legendary Xerox PARC lab to let the Apple Lisa team visit and play with its prototypes for graphical user interfaces," reads the report. "And while Apple at the time said that Lisa stood for 'Local Integrated System Architecture,' Jobs would later claim to biographer Walter Isaacson that the machine was actually named for his oldest daughter, Lisa Nicole Brennan-Jobs." "Then-Apple CEO John Sculley had Jobs removed from the Lisa project, which kicked off years-long animosity between the two," continues the report. "Ultimately, a boardroom brawl would result in Jobs quitting in a huff to start his own company, NeXT Computer. Apple would go on to buy NeXT in 1996, bringing Jobs back into the fold. By 1997, Jobs had become CEO of Apple, leading the company to its present status as the most valuable in the world."

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Apple To Release Lisa OS For Free As Open Source In 2018

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  • I doubt if anyone is going to use it on 68K hardware. So, what are we supposed to do with it? I have a Mac SE, but I don't think it would operate long enough any more to do a conversion to that hardware. Maybe someone will convert it to run on x86 hardware.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      A 68K simulator will run much faster than the original hardware...

      • An abacus would probably run it faster than the original hardware.

        I actually had the opportunity to play with a Lisa for fifteen minutes or so back in the around 1984. It was monumentally, incredibly, slow. My impression is that Windows 1 run from floppy disks was faster. And that no one who actually needed a computer to do work would use either. Perhaps I'm being unfair. It was a long time ago, and the machine cost way too much for my budget which was strained by a PC-XT clone.

        Anyway, it might be inte

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      So, you've never heard of an emulator [wikipedia.org]?

      No, there's currently no Lisa emulator, but until now there would be no point without an OS to run on it.
    • by llamalad ( 12917 )

      It appears that it's written in Pascal... I haven't played with that since high school.

      Will be neat to see what comes of it.

      • Don't stress over it, but whoever converts it to another language will be under a lot of pressure.

      • Apple wrote MacOS for Pascal and published Pascal interfaces. C interfaces came later. I'd expect all the HLL part of the Lisa OS to be Pascal.

    • does some have the mac os star trek code?

    • I doubt if anyone is going to use it on 68K hardware.

      There are plenty of 68k emulators. On a modern computer, even an emulator would be way faster than the original hardware.

      The original Lisa was a 68000, so you don't even need to emulate any VM stuff. The first 68k with VM was the 68020.

      • by Crass Spektakel ( 4597 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @09:13PM (#55819397) Homepage

        You are wrong here...

        The LISA featured a propietary MMU to implement some memory protection though I think it did not offer virtual memory in todays sense. No computer today does actually "swap", they all "page" which means some hardware traps access to fixed-sized pages of memory and activating some low level memory handler. The early computer did instead "swap" what was a software based method to move memory to disk. It was more complex, higher level, pretty propietary and usually less powerful. Today we wrongly call both "swappping".

        Quite a lot of old 68000 computers had some propietary MMU to increase stability and run Unix. This only fell out of favor when the cheapish 68000 home computers like Sinclair QL, Atari ST, Amiga and the NEC Town came into existance and came only back when the 68030 and 386 hit the shelves which both came with an integrated MMU.

        • by _merlin ( 160982 )

          What do you mean "NEC Town"? Fujitsu FM Towns was a DOS-based x86 multimedia computer (with a spin-off games console, the FM Towns Marty). NEC PC-98 series were DOS-based x86 PCs. The Sharp x68000 used a 68k CPU and ran the DOS-inspired HumanOS.

        • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

          I think you are confused in your terminology. Paging refers to a virtual memory system where the virtual RAM is divided up into fixed sized pages that can be relocated in physical memory or swapped to a paging file on disk. Paging is much older than you might think - it was introduced with the Manchester Atlas. Swapping is the term used for saving the content of a page to disk and/or loading the content of a page from disk.

          It was impossible to implement a reliable virtual memory system with the 68000 becaus

      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

        There are plenty of 68k emulators. On a modern computer, even an emulator would be way faster than the original hardware.

        Even on not-so-modern hardware, an emulator could be faster than the original hardware. Palm OS jumped from 68K to ARM 15 years ago, and even on handheld CPUs running at 150-200 MHz, legacy code ran as fast as it ever did, if not more.

      • There are plenty of 68k emulators. On a modern computer, even an emulator would be way faster than the original hardware.

        When Apple switched from 68k to PowerPC, the new PowerPC Macs came with a 68k emulator. I think a PowerPC running at 110MHz was Apple's fastest 68k machine ever. It beat a 40 MHz 68k computer running 68k code, which was about 5 to 8 times faster than the Lisa

        I'd say a single core on a modern x86 processor is again 20 times faster. And Apple's emulator was an interpreter, you could expect considerable improvement from a compiler.

    • I dunno...

      I wonder if my mom still has her Mac XL. She used to run a business on it years ago. It was already converted to Mac when she bought it. I wonder what it would take to convert it back to a Lisa.

      • I wonder if my mom still has her Mac XL. She used to run a business on it years ago. It was already converted to Mac when she bought it. I wonder what it would take to convert it back to a Lisa.

        I 'converted' a Lisa from Lisa OS to Mac OS once, for a rinky dinky little school in Santa Cruz. It involved installing Mac OS.

        • There's more to it than that. The hardware is different. A trivial example is that the display geometry is different.

          • There's more to it than that. The hardware is different. A trivial example is that the display geometry is different.

            That is true; but if you are an unsophisticated computer hack like drinkypoo, you don't bother with niceties like circles on the screen that actually look and PRINT like circles, too...

            Boy, the Lisa had the best monochrome monitor on the planet! You could sit in front of it for hours without feeling monitor-fatigued. It had REALLY long persistence phosphors (plural), which would have made it useless for fast gaming; but boy was it nice for word-processing and artwork...

            • That is true; but if you are an unsophisticated computer hack like drinkypoo, you don't bother with niceties like circles on the screen that actually look and PRINT like circles, too...

              I enjoy square pixels as much as the next guy, but I'm also used to doing without them. Growing up, I spent the most hours with one Amiga or another. (I'm about to sell an A1200...)

              • That is true; but if you are an unsophisticated computer hack like drinkypoo, you don't bother with niceties like circles on the screen that actually look and PRINT like circles, too...

                I enjoy square pixels as much as the next guy, but I'm also used to doing without them. Growing up, I spent the most hours with one Amiga or another. (I'm about to sell an A1200...)

                Never owned, or spent significant time with, any Amiga. Extremely sophisticated (and proprietary!) hardware; but a somewhat-shitty, unstable OS was my impression. Guru Meditation Errors, INDEED!

                The OS WAS extremely multitasking, though! That's why I was contemplating embedding an A500 mobo in a stage lighting console I was designing back in the day...

                • Never owned, or spent significant time with, any Amiga. Extremely sophisticated (and proprietary!) hardware; but a somewhat-shitty, unstable OS was my impression. Guru Meditation Errors, INDEED!

                  The OS completely beat the pants off the primary competition, the Mac OS, which was just as crashy and took much longer to boot. Alas, the hardware didn't keep up, and management murdered the company. (An Amiga emulating a macintosh was actually faster than the real thing with the same CPU...)

                • When we were looking at moving off the TRS-80 Model 4, I looked at Macs, Ataris, and Amigas. My memory is that I could justify spending the money for the Mac, but the other two were out of our budget.

          • Everything you mention would be handled by a version of Mac OS that is designed for Lisa's hardware, correct? Which presumably is the version drinkypoo installed? So... what is there more to, exactly? Or are you suggesting he would have had to modify an operating system Apple had supplied with him specifically for this hardware?

            • That was the point. You don't just "install macos". You have to find a copy of MacXL (ex-Lisa) and install that. Moreover, ex-Lisa owners usually pulled out the Twiggy drives, which were compatible with pretty much nothing, and replaced them with one crunchy drive and one hard drive. (In our case, a 5 Mbyte hard drive. Ooooh, storage!)

              I'm not sure what would be involved with switching it back to the Lisa OS. Partly because I don't remember whether it was a Lisa 1 or Lisa 2, and I'm not sure how much p

    • Obvious current hardware target would be Apollo/Vampire FPGA

    • by leonbev ( 111395 )

      Yeah, it's too bad that Apple didn't open source this code 30 years ago when it would have been helpful to anyone trying to make GUI from scratch. At this point, it's just completely obsolete except for a handful of historians and legacy Apple enthusiasts.

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @07:30PM (#55819019) Homepage Journal

    An alternative to Gnome3 on Ubuntu.

  • Okay.... I thought that it was always common knowledge that the Lisa was named after Jobs' daughter.... and I don't mean just recently... I mean when the thing first came out.

    I remember seeing one in the computer store where I would regularly go and hang out on the weekends and meet up with fellow computer nerds, and saw the new Lisa computer that Apple had just come out with. My first thoughts when I saw it ran along the lines of it being quite overpriced... because it didn't even have a color display.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      There's no particular reason both claims couldn't be true. Jobs could have made a "retronym" of his daughter's name and used that to sell the name to marketing. A lot of nominal acronyms appear to actually be retronyms.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        There's no particular reason both claims couldn't be true. Jobs could have made a "retronym" of his daughter's name and used that to sell the name to marketing. A lot of nominal acronyms appear to actually be retronyms.

        Everybody knew that Jobs had an alleged daughter named Lisa that he was denying paternity of. Nobody really thought it stood for "Local Integrated System Architecture", but that was the official story and there was no proof to contradict it. He only admitted it later to his biographer, of course it was named after this daughter. I don't think retronym is appropriate because nothing was done retroactively, it was named after his daughter from the start, he lied about that from the very beginning and most peo

  • by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @07:38PM (#55819061)

    The very first computer I ever bought was Macintosh XL -- a Lisa that was loaded with a (lousy) emulation of the Macintosh.

    Before buying it I had a long list of questions (more than a dozen) that I took to the Apple store and posited to the top tech guy there - since I had lots of concerns about whether this was functionally equivalent to the Macintosh.

    I bought it after getting his answers, every one of which was wrong.

    It was a flakey system that crashed constantly doing ordinary tasks. I might have kept it if they had released the Lisa software and I could run it as a Lisa -- at that time they had stopped selling the Lisa so denying the ability to run the OS on the Mac XL did not advantage Apple in any way.

    Instead I sold it to a guy who had a start-up turning Mac XL/Lisas into engineering workstations so that I could buy a real Macintosh (512). I still have that and it boots, but is not valuable as a collector's item since I went through a couple of rounds of board and case mods to upgrade it.

    • Sorry, the Mac XL *was* a Macintosh computer, not a Lisa. The OS of the two was quite different, and had different hardware requirements.

      This doesn't mean the tech guy didn't give you the wrong answers, that's hard to say since you didn't say what the questions or the answers were, but the two were vastly different machines, and the form factor was the smallest part of it.

      FWIW, I used most of the models of Mac up through the Mac II, none of them were like the Lisa, which I only used at demonstrations. E.g., the tracking of the mouse was quite different between the Mac and the Lisa.

      P.S.: The Mac XL was not inherently flaky. That you got a lemon isn't reason to criticize the entire model. Some modified versions had heat issues, but I never had a problem with that. Those who did commonly solved the problem with a chimney...and I think that didn't usually happen unless the machine had already been modified. It did, however, have limited air circulation, and this was a mistake of the design, but rarely caused problems...it just pushed things closer to the edge than they should have been. A more common problem, however, was people putting things on top of the computer and blocking the air flow.

      P.P.S.: Some people who modified the machine would also add in a fan to increase the air flow, but this was only needed if you had already modified the machine. And, of course, if you were in the habit of obstructing the air flow, even a fan wouldn't reliably help.

      All that said, there were occasional lemons.

    • The very first computer I ever bought was Macintosh XL -- a Lisa that was loaded with a (lousy) emulation of the Macintosh.

      Before buying it I had a long list of questions (more than a dozen) that I took to the Apple store and posited to the top tech guy there - since I had lots of concerns about whether this was functionally equivalent to the Macintosh.

      I bought it after getting his answers, every one of which was wrong.

      It was a flakey system that crashed constantly doing ordinary tasks. I might have kept it if they had released the Lisa software and I could run it as a Lisa -- at that time they had stopped selling the Lisa so denying the ability to run the OS on the Mac XL did not advantage Apple in any way.

      Instead I sold it to a guy who had a start-up turning Mac XL/Lisas into engineering workstations so that I could buy a real Macintosh (512). I still have that and it boots, but is not valuable as a collector's item since I went through a couple of rounds of board and case mods to upgrade it.

      Speaking as someone with experience with Lisas, Mac XLs (Apple ones), Mac XLs (Sun Systems Remarketing's modified Lisas), and the original 128k Mac, I can tell you this:

      128 k Macs were every bit as crash-happy (depending on the Application involved) as Mac XLs.

      REAL Lisas, running 7/7 were fairly stable; but it was a VERY tightly-Integrated Office Suite (WAY ahead of its time!). But then, that was nearly IT when it came to true Lisa software.

      I have logged hundreds of hours on Apple Mac XLs, and they are just

  • Might work fine on Raspberry Pi 3
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The advanced GUI and cpu support needed for the brilliance of a Lisa OS is too much for a Raspberry.
      Supporting a new systemd OS on Raspberry will allow many more applications to work on Raspberry.
    • Could probably work fine even on a Raspberry Pi Zero.

  • So much history-- (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sillivalley ( 411349 ) <sillivalley AT comcast DOT net> on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @08:24PM (#55819247)
    So much history (and transition of Apple as a company) involved in Lisa...
    68k with custom memory map, two very funky disk interfaces (twiggy and pippin), big bitmapped display (rectangular, not square like the Macintosh)
    As much as possible written in Pascal, designed and documented!
    I'll call it the first large scale Apple project designed and built by engineers, particularly software engineers (the design part is important)
    Yes, Apple /// SOS was designed and built by software professionals (Tom Root, Bob Etheredge, and many more), but not at all the scope of Lisa which went from the core OS out to the document model
    Such incredible effort went into Lisa -- the origins of Quickdraw graphics (Atkinson), modeless text editing (Tesler), software design on a large scale, a document model rather than an app-centric model

    Of course some issues (problems), such as applications software tied to the serial number of the machine, not enough RAM, not enough disk space, not enough CPU horsepower
    And even though many of the foundations for the Macintosh came from Lisa (mouse, bitmapped screen, Quickdraw, overall engineering rigor), with very few exceptions, if you worked on Lisa, Steve considered you to be second rate (a view not shared by most of engineering)
    Lisa also lead the way in other ways -- the locked-down, invitation only secrecy and internal isolation that was anathema to the Apple ][ and Apple /// worlds of that time, but which has come to define the current Apple.

    Lisa was an amazing development, particularly at that time in Apple's history. I have so much respect for those people, and for the Apple /// team as well. At the time, the biggest knock both these projects took was not matching the (incredible for the time) sales volume of the Apple ][.

    I saw this happen from across the street in Bandley 3... An incredible time at Apple, and in the computer racket.
    (Apple Employee 1xxx)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Be nice if NeXT OS was released as well especially since the company no longer exists.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Be nice if NeXT OS was released as well especially since the company no longer exists.

        You do know that NeXT OS is still alive and well with a new name? It's called OSX. Look at the copyrights in the include files.

      • I'm not sure if it's still there, but for a while Apple let you download OPENSTEP 4.2 for x86 from the same place you could get System 7 and some other abandoned software. It wasn't open source, but you could run it in a virtual machine (though it became increasingly annoying to find emulated hardware that it knew about over time).

        I found it a bit depressing that OPENSTEP 4.2 running in an emulated x86 machine in VirtualPC on a 1.25GHz PowerPC Mac was more responsive than OS X.

      • Man, I really word-saladed that to something like 'Nice if BeOS was next to be released.'
    • So much history (and transition of Apple as a company) involved in Lisa...

      68k with custom memory map, two very funky disk interfaces (twiggy and pippin), big bitmapped display (rectangular, not square like the Macintosh)

      As much as possible written in Pascal, designed and documented!

      I'll call it the first large scale Apple project designed and built by engineers, particularly software engineers (the design part is important)

      Yes, Apple /// SOS was designed and built by software professionals (Tom Root, Bob Etheredge, and many more), but not at all the scope of Lisa which went from the core OS out to the document model

      Such incredible effort went into Lisa -- the origins of Quickdraw graphics (Atkinson), modeless text editing (Tesler), software design on a large scale, a document model rather than an app-centric model

      Of course some issues (problems), such as applications software tied to the serial number of the machine, not enough RAM, not enough disk space, not enough CPU horsepower

      And even though many of the foundations for the Macintosh came from Lisa (mouse, bitmapped screen, Quickdraw, overall engineering rigor), with very few exceptions, if you worked on Lisa, Steve considered you to be second rate (a view not shared by most of engineering)

      Lisa also lead the way in other ways -- the locked-down, invitation only secrecy and internal isolation that was anathema to the Apple ][ and Apple /// worlds of that time, but which has come to define the current Apple.

      Lisa was an amazing development, particularly at that time in Apple's history. I have so much respect for those people, and for the Apple /// team as well. At the time, the biggest knock both these projects took was not matching the (incredible for the time) sales volume of the Apple ][.

      I saw this happen from across the street in Bandley 3... An incredible time at Apple, and in the computer racket.

      (Apple Employee 1xxx)

      Thanks for this!!!

      Your story comports with the many stories I have read over the years.

      I have had much experience with Lisas, Apple and Sun Mac XLs, and nearly every model of the Mac from the 128k-forward. Not to mention the Apple 1 and ][ (not so much the ///, though... ;-) ).

      It is so weird that Jobs considered the Lisa, and those on the Project, as second-rate; but I have heard that from many sources that were there. But you are right that it was an incredible machine, and an absolute triumph of hardware

    • I had a Lisa! It was the successor to my Apple ][+. It had a 5 MB hard drive you had to turn on a few minutes before the main computer so that the drive would spin up and stabilize before the Lisa tried to access it. The drive was as big as a 24" monitor laying horizontally and sat on top of the computer. I used Modula-2 to program it.

      A couple of years later I worked at a printing company and their prepress department had dozens of Lisa's all happily composing away. Great money saver for the company.

  • While Steve Jobs didn't create the Lisa, he was instrumental in its development...

    I don't think Jobs did *any* significant programming at Apple, if he did any at all. Jobs was the "visionary".

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      Only a moron conflates development with programming in such a context.

    • Did Steve Jobs ever do programming anywhere? I know Bill Gates did, but I don't remember Jobs being referred to as a programmer ever......
  • Giving that code and an emulator as a gift is a classy move. Now let's get an iOS 1.0 hardware emulator and let us archive the original App Store games. That history is being lost by the day.

    Early encryption keys please.

  • ... the OS and environment from the Xerox 1108 Dandelion [wikipedia.org] workstation I used back in 1985, written in Interlisp-D [wikipedia.org] - foe which I still have the 3" thick hard copy manual.

  • I'd much rather they release the source to all the Apple ][ & // lines. Apple ][, ][+, //e, //e Platinum, //c , //c Plus, and //GS. And anything else I missed.

    They can keep the source to the Apple ///. :)

    • I'd much rather they release the source to all the Apple ][ & // lines. Apple ][, ][+, //e, //e Platinum, //c , //c Plus, and //GS. And anything else I missed.

      They can keep the source to the Apple ///. :)

      While the first 2 revs. Of the Apple /// hardware had some PCB issues, the rev 3. Boards were rock-solid. Unfortunately, too late...

      But as far as Apple SOS, it was actually QUITE nice, and I believe pieces parts of it were incorporated into what became both ProDOS for the Apple ][, and later, MacOS.

    • Wasn't the source to the Apple ][+ released in the reference manual?
  • Isn't Apple afraid that Microsoft will steal that QuickDraw code?

    Oh, wait...

  • How did they become the owner? When?

  • "Jobs had become CEO of Apple, leading the company to its present status as the most valuable in the world."

    Jobs had become CEO of Apple, leading the company to its present status as the most valuable in the world after begging Bill Gates for the money to make payroll.

    There...I fixed that for you.

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