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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Vintage Apple Computers : LISA: A Professional Assembly Language for Apple Computers July 1980

LISA : A Professional Assembly Language Development System for Apple Computers

1981 by Online Systems



Note: formatting style in full capital letters has been retained from the original Lisa “A PROFESSIONAL ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM FOR APPLE COMPUTERS “Manual

Section 1.1 – What is LISA?

LISA (pronounced LI, ZA not LE SA) is an interactive 6502 assembler for the Apple II. It was carefully designed to suit the needs of beginners and advanced programmers alike. Due to its structure, code compression, interaction, and built-in features LISA is easily the most powerful assembler available for the Apple II.

With LISA machine programming becomes almost as easy as BASIC. LISA works with you instead of working against you, as is the case with several other available assemblers. LISA is a symbolic assembler; the programmer does not have to keep track of addresses as is the case with the built-in ROM mini-assembler. LISA has more built in features than any other assembler available for the Apple II! More pseudo opcodes ( which make the assembler easier to use ), Sweet 16 mnemonics (which turns your Apple II into a 16 bit machine, requiring less code to perform a desired task), more extended mnemonics ( a great memory aid), and more commands which allow the flexible use of DOS 3.2.

LISA also works with the new Apple II PLUS as well as with Apple’s Autostart ROM or the language system. If your Apple II has the LAZER MicrosSystems Lower Case +PLUS installed , you may enter and display the entire 96 upper/lower case AXCII character set and all characters may be entered directly form an unmodified Apple keyboard . Not only that , but should you desire to incorporate lower case input into your assembly language programs LAZER Systems has provided a source listing of the “LISA P2.L” routines (used by LISA) for your convenience


LISA is a disk based product. Minimum requirements include at least one disk drive and 48k bytes of RAM. LISA 2.564k requires a language card for proper operation. Since the majority of LISA 2.5 owners have a RAM card of some type this documentation will be directed primarily at those individuals who a 64K Apple. There are no syntactical differences between LISA 48K and LISA 64K, only the addresses and the amount of available memory are changed between the two versions. The appendices contain a special section pointing out the differences. Apple owners with only 48K should study this section carefully.

The LAZER Microsystems Lower Case +PLUS is optional, but comes highly recommended. Along with the LAZER MicroSystems Lower Case +PLUS you will probably want the Keyboard +Plus as well. Its built-in type-ahead buffer is extremely useful when editing large programs. A printer (80 columns wide) is also optional but comes highly recommended.


LISA provides the use of several disk options. The newer may save LISA text files to disk as either a text or “LISA” type file. “LISA” files are much faster and require less space on the disk, but are incompatible with the rest of the world. Text files may be read in the Apple PIE or your BASIC programs but are much slower than the “LISA” type files for simply loading and saving. In addition a LISA source file on diskette may be appended to the existing file in memory by using the “AP (PEND)” command. During assembly it is possible to “chain” source files in from the disk using the “ICL” pseudo opcode. This allows the user assemble text files which are much larger than the available memory in the Apple II. Likewise by using the “DCM” pseudo opcode, it is possible to save generated code onto the disk, so codefiles of almost any length nay be generated.


LISA operates under DOS 3.2 for file maintenance and peripheral control. Any DOS Command may be executed directly form LISA’s command level. Since PR# and IN# are available for peripheral control. In addition control-p is reserved for use with user defined routines. Those routines may be printer drivers for use with I/O devices not utilizing an onboard-ROM, or with device drivers using the game I/O devices an jack (exact quote for manual) ., or any user defined utility such as slow list , entry into BASIC etc. LISA uses only standard routines in the Apple monitor, so LISA will work with both the normal Apple monitor and the Autostart ROM.

LIA modifies printers in DOS 3.2; therefore, when your LISA disk is booted the DOS which is loaded into memory should not be used for BASIC, or TINY PASCAL programs. LISA saves source files in a special “LISA” format. When you catalog the disk these files will have a filetype of “L”. When running under an unmodified DOS these files will look like binary files, but they cannot be BLOADED or BRUN‘ d. LISA is provided on DOS 3.2 but may be converted to DOS 3.3 using the DOS 3.3 MUFFIN program.

Dated July 1980

Full LISA Manual can be download pdf format link :

Apple Lisa

January 1983
June 1983

US $9,995
How many?
100,000 in two years
Motorola 68000, 5 MHz
1 Meg
12" monochrome monitor
720 X 364 graphics
1 parallel, 2 serial ports
mouse port
three internal slots
Two 5-1/4 inch floppy drives
external 5 Meg hard drive
Apple Lisa GUI

Officially, "Lisa" stood for "Local Integrated Software Architecture", but it was also the name of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' daughter.

The Lisa is the first commercial computer with a GUI, or Graphical User Interface. Prior to the Lisa, all computers were text based - you typed commands on the keyboard to make the system respond.

Now, with the Lisa, you just point-and-click at tiny pictures on the screen with a small rolling device called a 'mouse'.

This was an amazing advancement in a user-friendly computer system, but Apple didn't invent the idea of the GUI, it's difficult to say who did.

But Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) created the first computer with a Graphical User Interface and a mouse, in 1973! This 'Alto' computer was never sold to the public, and in 1981 the 'Star', which cost $17,000, was far too expensive and sold poorly.

Although Apple spent an incredible amount of time and money developing the Lisa, four years and $50 million, it turned out to be an unpopular system, due to its high price and few available software applications.

Additionally, it was rather slow, as the large and complex operating system was a huge burden on the 5MHz CPU. In addition to the external 5 Megabyte "Profile" hard drive, the Lisa has two internal non-standard 871K 5-1/4 inch "Twiggy" floppy drives.

Unfortunately, the floppy drives were slow and unreliable. Because of this, after selling about 6,500 Lisa computers, Apple offered an upgrade path for Lisa owners, replacing the two "Twiggy" drives with a single 400K 3-1/2 inch Sony floppy drive. The new drive holds half as much data as the old one, but is much more reliable. This new Lisa is refered to as the Lisa 2/5, with the "5" representing the external 5 Meg Profile drive.

Apple also released the Lisa 2/10, with an internal 10 Meg "Widget" hard drive. The System I/O board was redesigned to support the new hard drive, and the parallel port was lost in the process.

The external Profile HD can not be used with this system unless an parallel port expansion card is installed. The upgrade from the original Lisa 1 to the Lisa 2/5 was free to Lisa owners until June 1984, after which it cost $595.

To upgrade from the Lisa 1 to the Lisa 2/10 cost $2495. An additional 512K of RAM could be purchased for $1495. ( 1980 dollars)

The final insult came about a year later, when Apple again changed the Lisa. It would now be known as the Macintosh XL, and run the Macintosh operating system instead of the original Lisa OS.

Sales did pick-up, but Apple discontinued the Lisa line with 100,000 units sold after 2 years. By this time, the popular (and cheaper) Macintosh line of computers was available, of which Apple sold 70,000 in the first 3 months.

The Lisa is very technician-friendly - once the back panel is removed, the entire electronics assembly slides out in one piece, and the circuit boards are easily removed from their sockets. The power supply is just as easy to remove and replace, it is held in place by a single thumb-screw, and slides out with just a tug

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