In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Apple Lisa, the Computer History Museum has distributed the source code for Lisa OS version 3.1 under an Apple Academic License Agreement. The Pascal source code can be downloaded from the CHM website after filling out a form, with Apple’s approval.

Lisa Office System 3.1 was released in April 1984, during the early Mac era, and was the Lisa’s equivalent to modern operating systems like as macOS and Windows.

The complete source bundle weights approximately 26MB and consists of over 1,300 annotated source files, neatly organised into subfolders denoting code for the Lisa operating system, several included applications, and the Lisa Toolkit development system.

The Apple Lisa, which debuted on January 19, 1983, remains a significant and influential machine in Apple’s history, pioneering the mouse-based graphical user interface (GUI) that was adopted by the Macintosh the following year. Despite its advances, the Lisa’s exorbitant price ($9,995 at retail, or around $30,300 now) and lack of application support hampered its viability as a platform. A year after its debut, the comparably competent Macintosh significantly decreased its price. In 1984, Apple released a significant redesign of the Lisa hardware, and eventually abandoned the platform in 1985.

The Xerox Star was the first commercial computer to ship with a graphical user interface, contrary to what some have claimed in the past. However, the Lisa OS introduced important conventions that are still used in windowing operating systems today, such as drag-and-drop icons, movable windows, the trash can, the menu bar, pull-down menus, copy and paste shortcuts, control panels, overlapping windows, and one-touch automatic system shutdown.

A screenshot of the Apple Lisa Office System.


With the release of the LisaOS source code, academics and educators may now examine how Apple developers developed these historically significant features four decades ago. Apple’s Academic licence allows the use and compilation of source code for “non-commercial, academic research, educational instruction, and personal study purposes only.”


The Computer History Museum had previously hinted that the code will be released in 2018, but after considerable deliberation, they’ve chosen to hold off on releasing it until the computer’s 40th birthday—the ideal way to honour its legacy.

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