Apple Lisa Launched 40 Years Ago Today, Was The First Computer To Introduce A Graphical User Interface, But Was A Commercial Failure

Omar Sohail
Apple Lisa
Image of the Apple Lisa, development of the computer began in 1978 / Image Credits - Mac Stories

Despite Apple’s success with its Mac lineup, where consumers have not only access to the company’s desktop computers but also portable ones, there was a time, 40 years ago, when the company’s personal computer range went through a tumultuous period. That is correct, we are talking about the Apple Lisa, which launched today, four decades ago, and was the first to feature a graphical user interface (GUI). Unfortunately, the number of resources the company, Steve Jobs, and the team allocated to its development, the same success could not be sought, as the Lisa ended up being a commercial failure.

One of Apple Lisa’s biggest contributors to its failure was its ludicrous price of $9,995

Shortly after the Apple II launch, which was regarded as a massive success for the company, the development of the Lisa kicked off in 1978, with an official launch happening in 1983. After undergoing multiple changes, the Lisa was finally ready to be shipped to customers at an eye-watering $9,995, which is equal to $27,190 in 2021 when you adjust for inflation.

At the time, it was equipped with a 5MB hard drive, but due to its exorbitant asking price, half-baked software, and unreliable Apple FileWare floppy disks, the product hardly sold to business users. To make matters worse, Apple introduced a cheaper and faster Macintosh shortly, which ate into Lisa’s sales. To date, only 10,000 units have been sold in two years, after which Apple pulled the plug.

Steve Jobs posing with the Apple Lisa personal computer / Image Credits - History

During the computer’s development, Steve Jobs spearheaded the project but was forced off of it by Apple’s board of directors since it might have appeared to them that Jobs was too focused on this personal computer, which meant that the company was quickly burning through its cash reserves.

Later, in 1985, the machine was repackaged and sold at $4,995, with Apple renaming the product as the Lisa 2. In 1986, the entire Lisa platform was discontinued. Despite its shortcomings, the Lisa introduced to the world the GUI and the mouse, changing how we use computers. It may not have garnered the success that was envisioned for it, but modern-day Macs are mass-produced with software based on what was running on it several years ago.

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