Apple Lisa Office System 1.0
|This is a document written by Thomas S. Stepleton that was originally
posted at http://galena.tjs.org/lisa/Software/Tour/ , but their server
went down a while back and seems to have taken the files with it. I liked
it so much I decided to post it here.
Lisa Office System 1.0 Tour
The Lisa Office System is almost without doubt the most popular piece of
Lisa software. Version 1 bundled LisaCalc, LisaDraw, LisaGraph, LisaList,
LisaProject, and LisaWrite (a spreadsheet, draw program business graphing
package, database program, project planning program, and a word processor
respectively) together in what would today be called a 'works package'
- by version 3, LisaTerminal (a terminal emulator) was included as well.
Similar software combinations (like the office bundle that shipped with
the Osborne 1, a popular portable computer from 1980) also existed, but
the Office System was set apart by its graphical interface and (to a lesser
extent) multitasking capabilities. In a sense, the Office System is what
makes a Lisa a Lisa - a powerful, easy-to-use personal computer geared
toward business and home use - rather than a graphical workstation like
some of its contemporaries (such as the ICL/Three Rivers PERQ and perhaps
even the Xerox Star).
This tour of the Lisa Office System v1.0 is designed to
showcase an early GUI-based 'works package' in action. Look closely for
attributes of the Lisa interface that were refined, retained, or removed
in later UIs.
Startup From... menu
This menu allows the user to select which volume to boot from. It is built
into the Lisa boot ROMs and is not part of the Office System. It does,
however, bear a passing resemblance to the Office System's menus: attributes
like a 'top-of-window' menu bar and hotkeys help maintain a consistent
interface. It would certainly have been easier for the ROM programmers
to make a text menu or a simple box!
The Environments Window
The Environments Window allows the user to select which shell to use. (A
shell is any Lisa Operating System program with the .SHELL suffix; the
Lisa Office System and the Workshop are shells although they also consist
of many other programs). Like the Startup From... menu it is not part of
the Office System (it's the operating system program system.shell) but
it mimics the Office System UI all the same.
Lisa Office System 1.0 Splash Screen
This is the splash screen displayed by the Lisa Office System during startup.
Perhaps not as inviting as the "Welcome to Macintosh" greeting, the Lisa
welcome dialog has a more professional feel. The stylized "Lisa" text is
a bitmap occupying four spaces in the Lisa system font.
Lisa Desktop Manager
This picture shows the Desktop Manager (analagous to the Macintosh Finder
or the Windows 95/98 Explorer program) in action. Like the Finder, the
Desktop Manager shows the volumes on the desktop; like the Explorer, the
Preferences accessory (Control Panels) is there as well. Note the conspicuous
absence of a System Folder - for better or for worse, the operating system
is out of reach of the Office System user.
All versions of the Office System use a document-based metaphor rather
than a program-based metaphor. In other words, Lisa users manipulate documents
and rarely have occasion to disturb the programs (called tools) themselves,
which are often kept tucked away in a subdirectory. To create a new document,
the user double clicks on a stationary pad (notice all of the icons that
end with "paper") and a new document appears on the disk; to edit that
document or any other existing document the user double clicks on its icon
and the appropriate tool is loaded.
Trivia Note: Lisa Office System icons are actually glyphs in a special
Office System font.
Lisa Office System Clock
The Clock is the simplest Lisa accessory. Like its Macintosh couterpart,
the clock allows the user to set time and date. It lacks the Macintosh
clock's alarm feature.
Note: "Accessory" is a term of my own invention used to describe
the small Office System programs that create no documents. Office System
documentation simply called this accessory "the Clock".
Lisa Office System Calculator
The Office System calculator actually has quite a bit more functionality
than the Macintosh calculator: in addition to the four-function mode shown
here, the calculator also has an RPN mode, an adding machine mode, and
a simulated paper tape. The special glyphs adjacent to and within the keys
are in the calculator's dedicated font.
Office System Preferences Window
The Preferences window allows the user to connect devices, choose the startup
volume, and adjust screen, keyboard, mouse, and speaker settings. Notice
the conspicuous absence of slider widgets - radio buttons are used instead.
LisaCalc was probably one of the most used tools during the Lisa's heyday.
Like most business applications it is not a particularly inspiring or innovative
program, but it serves its purpose. One unfortunate bug is LisaCalc 1.0's
failure to properly restore cell information if the user cancels a calculation,
a flaw it shares with several later 'fixed' versions.
MacDraw 1.0 users will recognize the LisaDraw interface at once - it is
not surprising then that LisaDraw was almost directly ported to the Mac.
Later versions of LisaDraw crammed the menubar with options for line patterns
and even colors (an option exclusively for a special Canon inkjet printer).
LisaGraph is perhaps the easiest graph-making package I've ever used. Labels
can be inserted anywhere on the graph. The cell array is very similar to
LisaCalc (data can be copied and pasted between the two tools) but facilities
for equations do not exist.
LisaList is a tool designed for creating small databases. It supports several
different data types and formats. Like LisaCalc, there is nothing particularly
exciting about this tool.
LisaProject is a project planner that arranges various steps to a goal
in boxes. Paths can fork and converge to allow for multple teams to work
on different parts of a project. Facilities for determining time, cost,
and resources are included.
LisaProject is the only Office System tool attributed to a particular
author: one Debra J. Willrett, who developed the software for Apple internal
use. It was later decided that Lisa Project was useful enough to become
part of the Office System.
This is the timeline view of the project in the picture above. As projects
go, this one is farily minimal. The boxes indicate the projected length
of time for one step to complete - gray areas represent a range of possible
It is worth noting that IBM used LisaProject for a study on GUIs, an
odd choice as LisaProject is arguably the least intuitive of all Office
LisaWrite is the Office System's word processor. Even though the ability
to see different fonts and formatting options was rare in the personal
computing world of 1983, LisaWrite was criticized lacking a spell checker
and other popular features.
Unlike some modern graphical word processors, LisaWrite allows for the
adjustment of both horizontal and vertical margins with rulers that appear
directly over the document.
Office System Close Dialog
Double clicking on any window's titlebar icon (at top left) brings up this
dialog in version 1 of the Office System. By version 3 the dialog was gone
- the Lisa assumes that the user always wants to save and put away the
window contents. Dialogs like these (note the question mark icon) present
a small amount of information and force the user to choose from a limited
set of options.
Format for Printer Dialog
The Format for Printer dialog is the Lisa eqivalent of the Macintosh "Page
Setup..." dialog. When several items of information are required from the
user, Lisa tools use large dialogs like these that contain several input
widgets and obscure large portions of the screen.
LisaCalc Help Dialog
This is something of an oddity among Lisa dialogs: although it presents
only text and requires no user-supplied data, it uses the "large style"
dialog box. It is also perhaps the largest of the "large style" boxes,
obscuring perhaps 90 percent of the screen.
Office System Print Dialog
This is the Office System print dialog, a dialog which saw several revisions
as the Office System evolved beyond version 1.0. Later versions of this
dialog lack the "One Copy While You Wait" option.
LisaTerminal Communications Port Settings Dialog
This dialog is from version 3.1 of the Office System but is included here
as another example of early GUI design. As in the Preferences accessory,
this dialog lacks widgets like sliders and drop-down menus, relying instead
on radio buttons.
Oddly, although Windows 3.1 has drop-down menus and sliders, the Windows
3.1 terminal accessory uses the same bulky combination of radio buttons
for communications port settings.