Until recently, it seems that most Apple-centric documentaries focused solely on Steve Jobs. That’s all changed in the last year or so as we’ve seen documentaries on everything from the Newton MessagePad to General Magic, the startup co-founded by members of the original Mac team.

Now a new documentary titled Before Macintosh: The Apple Lisa is getting ready to join the action. Directed by computer historian (and Apple collector) David Greelish, it promises to tell the story of one of Apple’s most important flops.

The Lisa was Apple’s first attempt at a computer with a WIMP (windows, icons, mouse pointer) interface. While we associate many of these innovations with 1984’s Mac, it was actually the Lisa that first introduced them to an audience.

This was true. Kinda.
Photo: Apple

“Apple’s Lisa workstation followed closely after another infamous market failure, the Apple III,” Greelish told Cult of Mac. “Though the Apple III did influence Apple internally, with its superior file system, it generally failed all-around. The Lisa however, though failing commercially, has inspired all of personal computing since. Both inside of Apple with the creation of the Macintosh, and then outside the company, most notably with Microsoft Windows.”

An (almost) lifelong Lisa fan

Greelish is no newcomer to the Lisa. He owned one back in 1989, when he purchased it from a company in Logan, UT.

“My Lisa was essentially upgraded to run like the then-current Macintosh Plus,” he continued. “For all practical considerations, it was my first Mac. Professionally, this computer was the foundation for my launch into the world of desktop publishing and pre-press. But I was so fascinated by it, that it also launched my interest into computer history.”

The documentary will be around 100 minutes long, divided into three parts. The first will tell the story of the Lisa at Apple, focusing on its development, launch and untimely demise. The second part of the doc will then cover its life after Apple, while the third will focus on those enthusiasts who keep its legacy alive today. Greelish said that the film will include more than a dozen interviews, including one with former Apple CEO John Sculley.

To complete the documentary, Greelish has taken to Kickstarter to raise completion funds. A $25 pledge will earn you a digital copy of the finished film, while higher pledges include additional rewards. The project is planned for completion in November 2019. While it’s worth being aware of the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns, if you’re interested in getting involved, head over to the Kickstarter page here.

Oh, and if you’re doubting Greelish’s Lisa cred, check out the below video of him way back in 1992:




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