Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Truly Trivial: How did Apple infamously deal with their unsold inventory of Lisa computers in the 1980s?

Apple Lisa
This trivia geek has been under the weather lately, so I'm recklessly going to the bullpen again for this week's Truly Trivial, resurrecting an old (but timely) Geek Trivia column. Apple is set to announce their new Apple tablet (or so we've been led to believe) in the next few hours. The uber-anticipated device is supposed to revolutionize publishing, gaming, Web surfing, commerce, race relations, economic disparity, and possibly even the quantum structure of the universe--at least according to Apple fanboys. How soon we forget that other Apple products have had similarly anticipated debuts only to fail miserably. No matter how certain you are that the Apple tablet is a can't-miss consumer device, just remember the sad tale of the Apple Lisa:
The Apple Lisa was the first commercially available stand-alone PC to employ both a graphic user interface (GUI) and a mouse. Developed under the direct supervision of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, Apple intended the Lisa to revolutionize office computing as an all-in-one technical solution.
Beyond the GUI and the mouse, the original Lisa boasted several hardware and software features that were well ahead of their time. ... Too bad the Lisa cost almost $10,000 per unit and suffered woeful performance lags. The exorbitant amount of RAM and other high-end features made it significantly more expensive than IBM PCs and Apple's own Macintosh, which itself ran a faster, leaner GUI.
These drawbacks helped ensure that the Lisa never gained any significant market traction or adoption. After six years of frustrations and failures, Apple finally took a drastic and somewhat poignant measure to rid itself of the last 2,700 Lisa PCs it had in stock in 1989.
Read the complete Q&A here.