From my forthcoming book, Corporations that Changed the World: Apple Inc.
After a tour of the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) laboratories in December 1979 and a demonstration of their Alto computer, Steve Jobs decided that the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was the future of computing. Apple traded $1 million dollars in pre-IPO Apple stock for three days at PARC to study its machines. Apple engineers came away from the experience with the foundation of their first computer based on a GUI, called Lisa. According to legend the project was named Lisa after Jobs’ first daughter, but Apple claims that the name is an acronym for Locally Integrated Software Architecture. Lisa was launched in 1983 at the sky-high price of $9,995, which is what most likely doomed it to failure. Success notwithstanding, Lisa was a forbearer to a much more successful Apple project – Macintosh.
I used the original Lisa in 1983 and had a blast from the past when a colleague emailed me this demo of Lisa from YouTube. (Let it buffer and jump to around the 6 minute mark).
"I can run the clock at the same time as the other applications" "I can have 16 programs running at once" "This is a pull down menu" "This is a font change... That's Amazing"
The Lisa demo is also available on iTunes as a podcast (iTunes link) without the lengthy intro.
(Tip: Stuart Pomerantz)