lisa 2

home buttonup buttonback buttonnext button

lisa05.jpg (48913 bytes) lisa14.jpg (48989 bytes) lisaopen01.jpg (77724 bytes)
lisaopen04.jpg (46507 bytes) lisaopen05.jpg (79574 bytes) lisadate08.jpg (55623 bytes)
(click on picture)


Introduced   January 1983 
Discontinued   June 1985 
Original Price    $9995.00


      As the very successful  Apple II and II+ continued to dominate the home computer market, Apple management began to look towards the lucrative business and corporate markets. In early 1979 the senior management proposed two projects to build two new computers one of which was to gain a foothold in the business computer market and secure the future of the company.

      The first project was codenamed 'Annie', and was originally to be a game machine priced under $500 dollars to compete in the low end market with the Atari and Commodore brand computers. Jef Raskin was picked to head the team to bring it to market. But Raskin proposed a different idea, one that he had been thinking of for many years, a portable general purpose, low cost computer that was easy to use for everyone. This project would eventually evolve into the Macintosh.

       The second project was codenamed 'Lisa', and was to be a multi-processor high-end business computer. Ken Rothmuller was chosen to head the Lisa team.

        Within a couple of months the computer would evolve from the original multi-processor machine into one  designed around the powerful new 32 bit microprocessor from Motorola, the MC68000. It would have an enormous amount of RAM (1 MB) expandable to 2 MB. But the features that will set it apart from all other computers of that period would not be added until Steve Jobs takes his walk in the PARC in November of that year. 

          September of 1979 Jobs fired Rothmuller and replaced him with John Couch. It was John Couch who with the urging from Raskin, convinced Jobs and the Lisa design team to visit the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to see a demonstration of the Xerox Star running a GUI. An historical event occurred on that day, although Steve Jobs was not an engineer or a true technician, he was a visionary and what he saw on his two visits was the future. Xerox seemed perfectly happy keeping the breakthrough technology at the PARC right where it was, as a research endeavor. But now Apple knew about it, and was perfectly capable of and definitely willing to bring it to market. Jobs knew this was what he wanted for the Lisa project.

          The Lisa with its powerful new processor and abundant RAM would now feature a new kind of operating system making use of a pointing device called a 'mouse'. The operating system would be based on the GUI concept and a bit mapped screen. Apple programmers didn't actually steal the Xerox Star Operating System as some people believe. What they got from the PARC was an idea or a concept. Most of the work bringing the GUI to the Lisa was done by Apple's resident programming genius Bill Atkinson. It was Atkinson, who was originally assigned to the Lisa project as a programmer. He came up with the overlapping windows on the screen that could be grabbed and dragged anywhere and sized by just pulling on the corner. This feature was not available on the Xerox GUI, the windows could only be tiled on the screen and their size depended on how many were open..

        The Lisa was projected to be released at the beginning of 1981, but due to many delays it missed that date by two years (1983). Had it been released on time, would it have set the standard instead of the IBM PC which was released in August of 1981? Apple certainly was positioned to dominate the computer market at that time. So what happened? 

       I believe Lisa's delay in being released allowed IBM to gain the high ground and set the standard for all other computer manufacturers, the business market place became a hostile environment for any computer manufacturer trying to introduce any standard of architecture other than the ISA  introduced by IBM in August of 1981. 

        Lisa's high price tag was another hindrance to its acceptance in the office, $9,995 dollars was a lot of money for a computer, even a revolutionary one. Although in Apple's defense, the price tag for the Lisa could have been justified, in 1983 RAM was expensive, having 128K of RAM was considered a luxury. The 1 MB of RAM in the Lisa in 1983 would have cost several thousand dollars alone, and its powerful 32 bit processor would have made it the most powerful computer you could buy short of purchasing a minicomputer costing many times what the Lisa cost. In today's computer environment the Lisa would have been considered a workstation which generally cost 4 to 5 times more than an average desktop computer. In Lisa's time the marketplace just was not ready for a workstation, that market would not develop for another 5 or 6 years, companies like Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems will make a lot of money building powerful engineering workstations for offices

         There were actually three versions of the Lisa built in its short life span.

         The first Lisa was introduced in January of 1983. For your $9,995 dollars you got a keyboard that included a numeric keypad, a mouse, and the main CPU box housing a 12" hi-resolution monochrome monitor and two in-house developed 5 1/4 inch 'Twiggy' drives. The 'Twiggy' drives (nicknamed after the famous fashion model of the 1960's for their thin size) were notoriously troublesome. The Lisa did not have an internal hard drive but had an external parallel port in the rear which a  was plugged into. The Lisa could not boot from this drive. The 'Twiggy' Lisa's are very rare. I would guess most of the original Lisa's were upgraded to the Lisa 2. The Lisa 2 in this exhibit has a manufacturing date on its CPU board of 1982. Is it an original Lisa that has been upgraded?

           The second Lisa was introduced in January of 1984, it went mostly unnoticed due to all the fanfare of it's younger sibling, the Macintosh. When the Lisa didn't sell as well as Apple management felt it should have, it was pulled and 'reengineered' to fix the problems. The Lisa 2 is actually all the left over Lisa 1's with the bezel changed to accommodate a single new 3 1/2 inch floppy drive. Apple dumped the Twiggy drives in favor of the more reliable Sony 400KB 3 1/2 inch floppy drives, the same drive being used in the Macintosh. It was bundled with the Profile 5 MB or 10 MB hard drive originally developed for the Apple III which plugged into the parallel port in the rear of the computer. This Lisa was marketed as the Lisa 2/5 or Lisa 2/10. And the base price was cut to $3495

             The third and final release of the Lisa came in the beginning of 1985 as the Apple Computer Company finally deciding that the Macintosh was to be the future of the company, tried to turn the Lisa into a Mac! They took the remaining Lisa's and renamed then the Mac XL. A 10 MB 'Widget" hard drive was installed in the empty bay above the Sony floppy drive and connected internally to the parallel port, this in turn removed the parallel port from the rear of the case. They developed an emulator program called Macworks to make the Lisa/Mac XL act like a big Macintosh and run most of the software available for the Mac. They made changes internally to the I/O board and made the computer capable of seeing up to 4 MB of RAM. Changes were made also to the video section to make the screen emulate the smaller Macintosh screen pixel ratio. Because of this you could no longer run the original Lisa operating system 7/7 on the Mac XLs.

              Finally on April 25, 1985, less than 2 1/2 years after its introduction and with an installed base of only 60,000 machines, Apple pulled the plug on the Lisa. All the remaining unsold units were sold to Sun Remarketing who continued to sell them and develop hardware add-ons for them. 

          The Lisa 2 in this exhibit is one of  two I have in the museum. This one is a Lisa 2 without the Profile hard drive and was bought on Ebay complete with start up disks and owners manuals. It was added to the museum on May 5, 2001 The other is a Lisa 2/Mac XL with a built in 10 MB Widget hard drive. I purchased it from a local thrift shop, it was added to the museum on April 13, 2001. 


System Architecture Ports Data Storage
Data Buss:  
Address Buss:  
L1 Cache:  
L2 Cache:  
2nd Processor:  
No. of Expansion Slots:  
Clock Speed:  
Buss Type:  
Mic Type:  
AirPort Ready:  
Other Ports:  
Tape Drive:  
Disk Drive:  
Floppy Size:  
No. of FD's::  
Int Hard Drive:  
Int HD Size:  
Int HD Interface:  
Int CD Support:  
Orig CD Speed:  
No. of Internl Bays:  
Memory Video and Graphics
Logic Board:  
RAM Slots or Sockets:  
Min - Max RAM:  
Min RAM Speed:  
RAM Sizes:  
Install in Groups of:  
Graphics Processor  
Screen size - columns & rows  
Video on board  
Video RAM  
Max colors  
RGB output  
Composit Video Output  
Screen Resolution  
Sprites or Missles  
Physical Specs. Software Power
Form Factor:  
Gestalt ID:  
Weight (lbs):  
Dimensions (in):  
Addressing Modes:  
Orig SSW:  
Orig Enabler:  
ROM Ver:  
ROM Size:  
Amiga OS Supported  
Max Watts:  
BTU per Hr:  
Freq Range:  
Battery Type:  
Soft Power:  
Pass Through:  
Sound Keyboard Specs.  
Sound Interface Device:  
Sound Generation:  
ADSR Capable:  
Sound Output:  
Sound Input:  
Number of keys:  
Built In:  
Upper / Lower case  


System Architecture



Microprocessor 68000 Standard on system board 512k Plug in memory card
Clock speed 5 MHz Maximum on system board 2 MB Optional plug in memory card
Bus type Apple proprietary Maximum total memory 2 MB
Data Bus width 16 bit Memory speed and type 150 ns
Address bus width 24 bit System board memory socket type  
Interrupt levels n/a Number of memory module sockets  
DMA channels n/a Memory used on system board dynamic


Standard Features


Disk Storage

ROM size 64k Internal disk and tape drive bays 2
Optional math coprocessor Optional Standard floppy drives 1 - 3.5 inch x 400k
Parallel port type 25 pin D-type plug Optional floppy drives: upgrade to 800k
RS232C serial ports 2 RS-232/RS-422 * 5 1/4 inch 160k none
Mouse ports 1 9 pin D-type plug * 5 1/4 inch 1.2MB none
UART chip used N/A * 3 1/2 inch 400k 1 internal
Maximum speed N/A * 3 1/2 inch 1.44MB none
CMOS real time clock yes * 3 1/2 inch 2.88MB none
CMOS RAM yes Hard disk controller included optional 5MB external (ProDrive) or internal 10MB Widget

Video & Graphics



Graphics Processor uses CPU Sound Interface device uses CPU
Screen size - Col x Rows GUI only Sound generation 1 voice
Resolution - Colors/High B&W / 720 x 364 pixels ADSR capable no
Resolution - Colors/Low ???    
Max colors mono black and white Programming language  
Sprites or Missiles no Built in language no
    Built in M L monitor no

Expansion Slots


Keyboard Specs.

Total adapter slots 3 Number of keys 76
Number of 8/16/32 bit slots 0/3/0 Upper/lower case yes/yes
    Keyboard cable length 4 foot

Physical Specs.


Environmental Specs.

* Height 13.8 inches Operating voltage @ 60 Hz 90-130 VAC
* Width 18.7 inches Maximum power supplied 150 watts
* Depth 15.2 inches Power supply output - volts  
* Weight 48 pounds Power supply output - amps