Lisa Development Info

The Lisa’s development, both for hardware and software, was Apple’s largest project at that time. These papers attempt to illustrate the nature of this effort from both outside descriptions and internal development documents such as developer memos.

User testing played a key role in the making of Lisa. The software architecture was very rich which was great for Lisa users but not so great for Apple’s Lisa developers since they were burdened with trying to run this software on not so fast hardware (I bet some of them would have killed for the Lisa hardware to be on a par with the Xerox Dorado or Dandilion machines). The Lisa’s software development also focused heavily on a set of progamming libraries called the “Lisa Desktop Libraries”. These would to some degree be later converted to the Macintosh where they were called the “Macintosh Toolbox”. These libraries provided a very sophisticated framework for Lisa program development.

The Lisa Office System’s development also encountered performance problems which were rather difficult to address given the low-level architectural design of the Lisa operating system and the applications themselves. Apple spent a lot of effort in trying to resolve these performance problems whose resolution was not 100% satisfactory to the Lisa developers (see Brad Silverberg’s comments about this in his Lisa commentary). It appears that the software architecture overwhelmed the hardware architecuture which suffered from too little memory and too slow disk I/O. Also present here is a paper discussing a test program for the Apple floating- point numeric environment SANE (Standard Apple Numeric Environment). SANE provided a very robust floating-point engine for the Lisa which became the standard for Apple’s other computers such as the Macintosh.