The Lisa project

The Lisa project

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs had discovered his new project. Soon he had taken control of the Macintosh project, which had been started by Jeff Raskin in 1979 to design a small and handy personal computer. Steve dedicated all his power to the Macintosh, which was to be a smaller and cheaper Lisa and was to revolutionize the way of computing.

The company was now separated into three divisions, Apple II, Lisa and Macintosh, which began competing against each other - particularly between the latter two.

Lisa was developed by a number of experienced engineers and programmers who had been recruited from HP, DEC and Xerox. This project was "the most professional operation ever mounted at Apple") and was in contrast to Steve's bunch of young hackers at Macin tosh.

When Lisa was introduced to the public in August 1983, it was "ahead of its time:") Lisa was easy to use because of the mouse, graphical interface and windows, and had additional features such as multitasking. Though is was first welcomed by the press as revolutionary, Lisa failed. One problem was Steve's "lack of self-discipline:") When introducing Lisa he talked about "his" Macintosh which would come out soon and with features like Lisa but cost only a fraction ($2,000 instead of $10,000 for Lisa). The other strategic mistake was the announcement that the two computers were not compatible. So it is no wonder many people waited until the Macintosh would come.

Finally, Lisa, which was intended for the business market at its price of $10,000, lacked the ability to communicate with other computers - a fact which was decisive for this market.

In the meantime, IBM had entered the personal computer market with its first IBM PC in 1981, and already dominated a large part of it. Its first PC "wasn't an earth-shattering machine technically") and was much harder to use than the forthcoming Apple mac hines. But the fact that it was built by IBM was enough to make it successful, and many software companies wrote applications for it. Apple had bravely run a full page ad saying "Welcome IBM, Seriously", but it soon seemed to have lost the battle. Neverthe less, IBM's entry brought Apple a lot of publicity as the only real competition to Big Blue.

Thus, Lisa was not very successful and the second failure after the Apple III. Still, Apple's sales increased - only because of the successful Apple II. But the company needed a successor, and all its hopes were now placed in the Macintosh.

Martin Groeger
Last modified: Mon Jul 8 05:45:07 PDT