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Image: Lisa Mackintosh XL
Image: Lisa Mackintosh XL

Short Bytes: You’d be surprised to know that 2700 Apple Lisa computers are resting in peace in a landfill in the United States. What made Apple take such step for a device named after the daughter of Steve Jobs? Was Lisa unable to meet the expectations of the company or the consumers?

Apple Lisa computer was released to satisfy Apple’s ambitions to build a mastered piece of hardware that would revolutionize the computing world, more precisely, to compete with IBM’s PC army. Born in the early eighties, it was Apple’s first shot in the market which had a GUI-enabled OS. The device had a Motorola 68000 processor clocked at 5 MHZ. It came with a 5-megabyte hard drive and supported 2 megabytes of RAM. It also had the Apple-designed 5.25-inch FileWare floppy diskette – called Twiggy – which was actually proposed to be implemented in Apple III.

For Steve Jobs, it was his vision to get something better than what previous Apple machines had offered at that time, having advanced features like cooperative multitasking and protected memory. This also marked the entry of Xerox PARC-inspired mouse into Apple’s ecosystem.

“Apple’s yet-to-be-announced Lisa 68000 network workstation is also widely rumored to have a mouse.” – InfoWorld, 1982

Launched on January 19, 1983, the technologically advanced Apple Lisa had a price tag of $9,995, around $24,000 in today’s time. Back then, buying the personal computer was more of a pipe dream than reality. The price tag does make sense as Apple had already spent $50 million in the R&D of Apple Lisa.

Image: Original Apple Lisa
Image: Original Apple Lisa

LISA stands for Local Integrated System Architecture, Apple officially stated. According to Andy Hertzfeld, a member of the original Mackintosh team, the acronym was actually a backronym deliberately formed to fit the name of Jobs’ daughter Lisa Brennan born in 1978.”Obviously, it was named for my daughter,” Jobs told Walter Isaacson during chat sessions for his biography.

In 1984, Apple released a modified variant Known as Lisa 2 with reduced RAM and 400K Sony Microfloppy instead of the Twiggy floppy drives. Price was slashed almost half of Lisa 1. But it wasn’t able to put sand on the remains of the commercially burnt Lisa 1. Another variant was released in 1985, called Mackintosh XL. The term Mackintosh had started echoing under Apple’s roofs by that time.

Image: Inside Apple Lisa
Image: Inside Apple Lisa

The product was discontinued in 1986 after the newly launched Mackintosh (not to confuse with Mackintosh XL) was fortunate to make a positive market presence and filling Apple’s bank accounts. With the help of Sun Remarketing, Apple prepared a burial ceremony for 2700 unsold Apple Lisa computers in 1989 at a landfill site in Logan, Utah. They did this to save some cash which they would to pay as a tax write-off.

“When Macintosh arrived in 1984 at $2495, the Lisa was doomed. In 1989, the last 2,700 Lisas were buried in a Utah landfill.” – Byte Magazine

An exorbitantly priced hardware had drowned into the ocean of value for money expectations of the buyers. It continued the failure legacy of the Apple III and Steve Jobs suffered the consequences of Lisa’s failure.

Check out the Apple Lisa commercial:

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Aditya Tiwari
When he is not writing for Fossbytes, he is busy eating his daily cheat meal and finding content to binge watch. Please feel free to suggest him some good stuff on Netflix. Reach out at [email protected]