Apple’s original graphical OS will be available for free in 2018


Virtually everything you’d need to give the OS a spin will be available, Kossow said. In fact, the only thing that isn’t likely to be released is the American Heritage Dictionary used for LisaWrite’s spelling checks. Sorry, you’ll just have to proofread your work when you travel back to 1983.

You probably won’t be dual-booting the Lisa’s software right away, since it was intended for a different processor (the Motorola 68000) and much stricter memory limitations. However, the very availability of the code might be crucial to preserving a key part of computing history.

The Lisa (named after Steve Jobs’ eldest daughter) was the first result of Jobs’ fateful visit to Xerox PARC, where he was blown away by researchers’ work on mouse-driven visual interfaces and set out to create a version of it that would be accessible to a mainstream audience. It was slow, limited and wildly expensive ($9,995, or about $24,560 in 2017 money), but it laid the groundwork for the Mac and virtually every other mouse-based computer that followed. The availability of the Lisa’s code should keep the vintage computer’s spirit alive well after the last system stops working, and could offer an insight into what Apple’s engineers were thinking at the time.

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