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Apple to release source code for pre-Mac computer Lisa

The source code for Apple's Lisa, the computer that pre..

The source code for Apple's Lisa, the computer that pre-dated the Mac, is to be released, allowing anyone to tinker with an important slice of IT history.

The Computer History Museum (CHM) announced that it had recovered the code and that Apple was reviewing it.

Once the code is cleared for release, it will be made available at some point in 2018.

The computer is generally regarded to have been one of Apple's biggest flops.

CHM's software curator Al Kossow announced the news on a Lisa mailing list for fans.

"Just wanted to let everyone know the sources to the OS and applications were recovered… and they are with Apple for review," he said.

Once that review is completed, the Computer History Museum will post a blog about "the historical significance of the software", ahead of a release of the code later in the year.

The Lisa – thought to have been named after Steve Jobs' daughter – was released in 1983 and was notable for being one of the first to feature a graphical interface and support for a mouse.

Its $10,000 price tag – around $24,000 (£17,000) factoring in inflation – contributed to the fact that it only sold 10,000 units.

The Mac, which was essentially a more affordable and improved version of Lisa, was released in 1984.

The operating system behind Lisa became the cause of one of the biggest rifts in technology history, with Apple suing Microsoft over the first version of Windows, claiming the firm stole Lisa's technology.

The news of the source code's release was greeted with enthusiasm on the fan forum it was announced on.

"Wow, what fantastic news! Many questions about what's included in the source code but I guess I'll just wait to see. Thanks to everyone involved," wrote one.

It was also welcomed on Twitter.

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