Think new computers are user-friendly? Launched in the era of command-line-operated
PCs, Apple Lisa had one of industry’s first mouse-driven graphical
user interfaces. It was a breakthrough in human-computer interaction, popularized
later even more by Macintosh.
Like mice more than keyboards? Users of Apple Lisa could say the same thing
in 1983. This groundbreaking computer featured an attractive, intuitive, and easy
to learn mouse-operated interface with icons, windows, pull-down menus and dialog
Got used to copy and paste?
It was Apple Lisa that introduced it in 1983. For the first time, users could
copy selected items from one document, and then effortlessly paste them in another
document. Or, sometimes, even another application.
Prefer your commands à la carte?
Apple Lisa from 1983 was the first computer to feature a menu bar at the top
of the screen and pull-down menus with commands and shortcut keys – an idea
that survived to this day in essentially the same form.
Double clicks or nothing?
Double-clicking, an action making life easier for most of the people, was born with
Apple Lisa in 1983. Back then it was called simply “clicking twice rapidly,”
but already allowed for its most common use – expanding an icon to a window.
Drag-and-drop is second nature to you?
Thank the designers of Apple Lisa, who developed this idea in 1983. Before that the
usual way to move or copy was point-and-keypress-and-point, providing less feedback
and forcing to use both the keyboard and the mouse.
Taking undo function for granted?
It hasn’t always been here. Apple Lisa from 1983 was one of the first
computers to have it. Granted, it was only one level deep and did not support
all operations, but already provided the users with a “tremendous security
Putting your trashcan on the desk?
Don’t worry. Everybody’s been doing that since Apple Lisa introduced
the concept of on-screen trashcan in 1983. The original Wastebasket could only hold
one file or set of files – but, come to think of it, isn’t this how
real-life trashcan work?
Think your computer is slow?
Apple Lisa from 1983 was probably slower. Its GUI-based operating system was so
complicated and ahead of its time that even Motorola MC68000, one of the then most
powerful processors, could hardly keep up with it.
Think Mac OS X is reliable? Macintosh had to wait for a stable and secure
operating system for 17 years. Its predecessor, Apple Lisa, already had cooperative
multitasking and memory protection in its first incarnation in 1983.
Couldn’t live without WYSIWYG?
Apple Lisa, introduced a year before Macintosh, already used “what you see is
what you get” principle across the whole operating system. Its 720×364 monochrome
display gave a fair representation of the actual print output.
Lost hours of work due to power failure? Apple Lisa from 1983 saved all
the editing changes in the background, so crashes or power failures did not
affect users’ work. The save command was usually invoked explicitly only
to serve as a checkpoint to revert to later.
Hate those file extensions?
Apple Lisa from 1983 did not have them. But already then it had long filenames. Not only
were you allowed to use any characters you wanted, but – as in real life –
you could have two or more documents sharing the same name.
Forgot which program you need now? Apple Lisa from 1983 did not have
applications in today’s sense of that word. The so-called “tools”
were loaded and unloaded automatically by the system. The only thing that
mattered to the users was their documents.
Not a big fan of product activation? Apple Lisa from 1983 already had a software
protection scheme, tying floppy disks to an internal serial number of the computer.
It was confusing and troublesome for many users, especially those having more than
Scratched your CD again? If that’s any consolation, users of Apple Lisa
sometimes had it even worse. Apple’s proprietary Twiggy floppy diskettes were
spacious, but sometimes very unreliable, and were soon replaced by standard 3.5-inch disks.
Like the hibernation feature? Apple Lisa had it already in 1983. The power
button communicated with the operating system, which saved the documents and its state
before going into low-power mode. After powering on, the desktop was restored to
its former order.