The Lisa (1983)
While traditional Apple computers stuck with a text-based monochrome display, Apple had another team working on a graphical user interface (GUI) at the same time. Both the Apple III and the Lisa were developed in parallel, although the latter didn’t come out until early 1983.
Officially, the name stood for “Local Integrated Software Architecture,” but that sounds like a pretty contrived acronym, and we’re sure it’s no coincidence that Lisa was also that name of Steve Jobs’ first daughter, who was born the same year the project began.
It was actually the first personal computer with a GUI, and arguably the spiritual predecessor to the original Macintosh. It was way ahead of its time technologically, introducing features like a high-resolution display, protected memory, a drag-and-drop interface, and an internal 5MB hard drive.
The problem, however, is that all this bleeding-edge technology didn’t come cheap. The Lisa debuted with a staggering $9,995 price tag. Dollar-to-dollar, that’s already more than a maxed-out 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M1 Max chip, or an entry-level Mac Pro. Convert that from 1983 dollars into 2021 dollars, though, and it works out to over $27,000 dollars in today’s money.
So, it’s probably not surprising that Apple only managed to sell about 10,000 Lisa computers, which resulted in a net loss of around $50 million on the project. The rest of the unsold inventory ultimately ended up in a landfill in Utah, where Apple hired security guards to ensure they were all properly destroyed in the process.