Officially, Apple states that Lisa stood for "Local Integrated Software Architecture" Unofficially, Lisa has been associated with the name of a daughter born to Steve Jobs and Nancy Rogers in May 1978.
In late 1978 several new computer project were started at Apple. The first, an enhanced version of the Apple II with custom chips, was code-named Annie. Woz worked with another engineer on it but didn't complete the project. Executive also discussed having Woz design a supercomputer utilizing bit-sliced architecture, which would spread the capabilities of the microprocessor over several identical chips. An engineering staff was put together for this computer, code named LISA .
The Lisa project started slowly and passed through many incarnations over several years. Eventually a former Hewlett-Packard engineer (John Couch) hired by Tom Whitney took over as it's project director.
In the spring of 1979 After some stock deals with Xerox, Steve Jobs was allowed to tour Xerox's California think tank, the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Jobs, who had often given employee Jef Raskin's ideas about graphical user interfaces little merit, was encouraged to see the new technologies Xerox was working on. While at PARC, Jobs saw three notable innovations:
During his tour of PARC, Steve Jobs saw a demonstration of a new computer language, Smalltalk, which emphasized graphics and a new mouse-controlled user interface. The graphics resolution was good enough to allow all sorts of tricks that Jobs knew were impossible on the Apple II or Apple III. It was an input device conceptually distinct from anything then in use on personal computers.
Jobs made a second trip to PARC, this time with Bill Atkinson. Bill was as excited as Jobs about the PARC innovation. Over a few month, LISA had changed from WOZ's multi-chip design to one based on a new, powerful microprocessor from Motorola, the 68000. Atkinson would create a revolutionary graphics package for it.
Jobs hired one of the principal scientist away from Xerox PARC and assigned him to Lisa. Larry Tessler's task was to design the most advanced personal computer system available and make Apple the technological leader.
The Lisa was developed further and further, with such additions as proprietary floppy drives and a modular construction working their way into the design, among many other features. Steve Jobs, demanding constant refinement, saw feature after feature given to the Lisa, delaying release times and driving the price up to an expensive $9995US. Jobs was eventually barred from the project and the Lisa 1 was released in january 1983.
Apple Computer unveils the Lisa computer, with 1MB RAM, 2MB ROM, 5MB hard drive. It was slow, but innovative.
The Lisa was based on the Xerox Star System, and cost Apple Computer US$50 million to develop. It is the first personal computer with a graphical user interface (GUI). The software for it cost Apple Computer US$100 million to develop.
In January 1984 Apple releases a new version of the Lisa computer, the Lisa 2. It uses all new software, as well as the Macintosh operating system.
Apple Computer officially renames the Lisa the Macintosh XL in January 1985.
May 15 1985 The last Lisa/Mac XL is produced at a Carrollton, Texas factory. Sun Remarketing buys thousands of the last Lisas, and is able to sell most of them at fair prices after upgrading them with current Macintosh technology.
The back side
Apple had had enough with the Lisa line, and in 1989 rented some land in Utah at the Logan Landfill.
1967: Jef Raskin (Mac creator) writes Ph.D. thesis on the Graphical User Interface (GUI) at Penn State University. In his thesis he coins the term "QuickDraw" for the first time. This will eventually become the name of the Mac's graphics routine 17 years later.