The source code for Apple’s ill-fated Lisa operating system and some of its key applications will be released to the general public in 2018.
Kossow said he converted the code to Unix end of line conventions and spaces for Pascal tabs after recovering the files using Disk Image Chef. The code is currently in Apple’s possession and is undergoing review. Once complete, the Computer History Museum will publish a blog post about the historical significance of the software and make the code available online.
The digital curator said the only thing that probably won’t be able to be released is the American Heritage dictionary for the spell checker in LisaWrite.
The Apple Lisa (an acronym for Local Integrated System Architecture) launched in 1983 as one of the first personal computers with a graphical user interface. Equipped with a 5MHz Motorola 68000 CPU, 1MB of RAM and a 5MB hard drive, the system – named after Steve Jobs’ daughter – sold for a steep $9,995. The high price tag combined with subpar performance and unreliable floppy disks resulted in poor sales as Apple was only able to move 100,000 units over its lifetime.
The pending release is great news, especially for preservationists and Apple historians that have likely been itching to have a look at the software’s inner workings. In the meantime, feel free to check out the Internet Archive’s collection of emulated software for the early Macintosh.