Welcome to the Lisa Emulator Project

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So, Ray, how come you care about ancient, obsolete machines?

In the begining...

A long time ago, in 1988 or 1989, I inherited three Lisas from my then employer. These were destined for the trash bin. The first worked flawlessly for several days, until its power supply died. At that time, Lisa parts were plentyful and I got a new supply for it. A few months later, I inherited two more Lisas, both of which were DOA. One of them had a bad tube, a Widget drive that would short out the system whenever it was attached, and a bad floppy that would also short the power supply. The other was screen modified, had a bad I/O board, and bad floppy. Between the second pair of Lisas, I managed to resurect one.

I couldn't do a thing with the Widget drive. At the time, I was talking to another Lisa fan, Steve Hattle, who also had a bad Widget. I mailed him the bad Widget and he was able to resurect one from the two bad ones...

As for me, I now had two Lisas. One flawless, the other with a bad floppy... I used the flawless Lisa as a Mac Plus by running MacWorks on it. It served many years this way, until I was able to find someone that had a spare Mac IIcx motherboard...

Long live the Hackintosh...

Seems he upgraded his machine to a IIci, and had somehow managed to talk the repair shop to let him keep the board. I paid somewhere around $1100 for it, I took my ugly piece of shit 286 clone (I still hate Intel machines today!) apart, sold all the guts to my buddy Sal, and kept the case and power supply. I had to use a wrench and a hacksaw to remove enough of the AT expansion port slot area to make the IIcx board fit. I added a third party floppy drive, an old Apple 8 bit video card from someone who upgraded to a 24 bit, an old mouse from someone who only would use Kensington TurboMice, a Quantum 100Mb drive, and some 30 pin non-parity SIMMs.

The power supply of a PC can't be used with a Mac, so it had to be rewired. I got most of the information for this project from Build Your Own Mac, and though some of it was slightly incorrect, I was able to track down the correct info and use it. Once the power supply was wired right and I had tested it over four times to make sure, I placed the motherboard in the case, and used small rubber feet to anchor it as the holes for screws matched AT boards. Then I added the floppy drive and the hard drive, installed memory and the NuBUS video card. I later wired up the Reset and Turbo switches to the motherboard with two aligator clips. Reset would reset the Mac, Turbo would push the Programmer's switch.

When all was ready I took a deep breath, plugged the monitor in, wired the video cable to the Hackintosh, plugged in power, held my breath, and turned the machine on. A great disappointment. The machine made some strange sounds, as if it was unhappy and it was... I fiddled around with the reset switch. Nothing, I fiddled around with the Turbo switch. Nothing. I hit reset, and head the lovely Mac gong! It worked! Later I found out that Turbo switches are wired backwards, that is when Turbo is pressed down, they don't complete the circuit, when Turbo is released, they do. Of course any Mac owner with the Programmer's switch knows that pressing both Reset and the Programmer's switch locks the machine up, especially durring bootup when there is no MacsBug loaded. Suffice to say there were leaps of joy and many a System 7.0 floppy shuffled in and out of the drive... From this point on, I had little reason to use the Lisas. Later, in '94 when Apple introduced the first PowerMac's, this machine was also abandoned for a brand new 7100/66. The Hackintosh now sits in a closet.

Fastforward to 1998...

Sometime back in February of 1998, I woke up one morning from a nightmare (ok, that's a cheap literary device, shame on me!): its theme subject was losing the last of my Lisas. I've two of them, one has a floppy problem (which I've almost fixed), the other Lisa works flawlessly. A few days before the dream, I tried to access the one with the bad floppy. When I did, I didn't see anything on the display so I tried to adjust the brighness. This resulted in a pop and that was her undoing. I was left with a single working Lisa...

Luckily, It turned out that it wasn't a power supply problem at all, but rather that the I/O board had gone bad due to a battery leak. The Lisa 2's have a four pack of sealed NiCAD's to keep the info in the PRAM alive. After a few dozen net searches and lookin in The Processor I found that PreOwned Electronics had a few I/O boards left and I bought one. (Yes I know about Sun Remarketing, but I've left a few phonecalls and emails and nobody called me back.) This fixed the problem; I also ordered an 800K floppy drive as they didn't have any 400k drives left. After purchasing the drive and later the 800K upgrade kit I still can't get the drive to work..

I did have a bit of progress though. My thrid, dead, Lisa was a DOA along with the second, but before commiting her to New York's Sanitation Department, I stripped her of as many parts as possible. Two items were very useful. A floppy ribbon cable, and a 400k floppy. However, this floppy's electronics board had a short that caused the Lisa to power off whenever the floppy was attached. The board was bad, but I suspected that the mechanism was good.

After resurecting the Lisa with the new I/O board, I replaced that ribbon cable. Later I took the dead drive from her (had a mechanical failure of some sort that I couldn't fix by greasing the drive as suggested). I took the good electronics board from this mechanically challenged drive and placed it in the floppy drive that had the short. This resulted in a somewhat working drive that I couldn't boot from, but that would at least allow to insert, and eject the disk. Likely the heads are dirty or misaligned, and it's probably easy to fix. I'll fix it later when I've the time and patience.

Back to the nightmare: At that point, I had two thoughts. In a few years, due to environment, dust, heat, cold, or old age, eventually enough components in both my Lisas would fail to make it impossible to resurect even one, and I would forever lose this collector's item, this old unique grand machine, the grandma of the Mac and the first somewhat successful commercial GUI machine.

The second thought of course was to build an emulator. That way, I could have a Lisa forever, everywhere. On my Windoze machines, on my Macs, on my Unixen, and maybe, if it's feasable, on my Newt2k.

I originally started lookin inside Inside Mac Volume I and II to find possible hadware that the Lisa and the Mac had in common, after all, I thought that since the Lisa could run MacWorks, it might be similar. Boy was I wrong! The Lisa's hardware is much more complex than the Mac's!

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