The Lisa Documentary

I recently watched David Greelish’s documentaryBefore Macintosh: The Apple Lisa. It’s a love letter to the Apple Lisa. For those who’ve never heard of Lisa, it was Apple’s original attempt to make a graphical user-based computer. While not a commercial success, the lessons learned with Lisa made the Macintosh possible.

Highlights for me in the documentary:

  • The interview with Bill Atkinson. He had many details about making Lisa and even Polaroid pictures of the initial GUI experiments. (I once spent a very pleasurable hour in the Macworld Speaker Room with Bill Atkinson. He’s just as nice as he seems.)
  • The remarkable efforts people made to hack Lisa after it was released. In the early days of computing, opening up your machine and tinkering was normal. As a teenager, I opened up my Atari ST and doubled the RAM by soldering memory chips on top of the existing ones. It was nuts, and I loved it. People did the same stuff with their Lisas, and this film covers that. It brought me back.