This 1983 demo says so much about Apple’s past, present, and future

Harry McCracken, FastCompany:

On the evening of January 26, 1983, as a technology-smitten Boston University freshman, I attended the monthly meeting of the Boston Computer Society, which included a demo of Apple’s brand-new Lisa system. Though I know that I came away enormously impressed, I don’t exactly recall the event like it was yesterday. Actually, just one element was permanently etched onto my brain cells: the moment when the Lisa’s bitmapped, proportional, user-selectable typefaces flashed on screen. It was a mind-bender given that other PCs–like my beloved Atari 400–were capable only of displaying a single fixed-width font of no elegance whatsoever.


What I didn’t realize until I watched the video is that seeing the meeting all over again wasn’t just an act of personal nostalgia. Between them, the IIe and Lisa, and the way Apple explained them to us BCS members, are full of lessons that remain resonant in the era of the iPhone.

First, read Harry’s article, it’s terrific. Then check the video of the meeting itself, embedded below. It’s a charming time capsule capture of a real moment in time.