The Pegasus Awards

Heart of the Apple Lisa

Jordin Kare

Pegasus Nominations

Year Category mp3

Best Parody

2001 Best Computer Song  

Heart of the Apple Lisa

Lyrics copyright 1995 by Jordin Kare
Music: Heart of the Appaloosa, by Fred Small
Lyric posted with permission of the author

In the land of high-tech ventures, by the waters of Frisco Bay --
Hewlett Packard up by Stanford, IBM in San Jose - [1]
The hackers of the Apple wrote their code and schemed their schemes
In the Valley known as Silicon, where fortunes grow from dreams.

And they build some fine computers, if you skip the Apple III, [2]
But they vowed to build a new machine that would the market please.
They would ease the User's burden; the command line they'd replace
With the magic known as GUI: Graphic User Interface.

Windows Scrolling in the Valley
Lead the Hackers off on a GUI tide.
There's blood on the chips down at HP, DEC, and MIPS [3]
But the Heart of the Apple Lisa never died.

Then from Xerox came the Alto, never marketed nor sold, [4]
Bringing mice and multitasking, and menus that unfold.
Desktops sprouted metal rodents; bitmaps glowed upon the screen,
And printers put on whizzy wigs to print just what was seen. [5]

Nearly lost in Big Blue's shadow, incompatible with DOS,
The Lisa, slow and costly, seemed sure to be a loss,
But then came Macs and Fat Macs, Laserwriters, II's and more,
And word would come from Microsoft, "You realize, This Means War!" CH.

The Chief said to the Hackers, in his anger and his pain,
"I am no more John Sculley. Scrolling Windows is my name.
They condemn us to niche markets, call our products vaporware!
We will sue them if we must, but we'll retain our market share!"

Well, they climbed on board that Scuzzy bus, with Postscript in their hearts. [6]
They won in desktop publishing. They won in graphic arts.
'Til Bill Gates, he saw his strategy, and sent the email down,
To copy those GUI features, wherever they be found.


Three Windows versions later, past the Pentium divide, [7,8]
The strangest of bedfellows, IBM, now on their side, [9]
Three thousand applications on the Power PC run,
But the buyers and the users still are leaving, one by one.

Windows Scrolling In the Valley said "My heart is sick and sad.
The future now is RISCy, the old chips are dead. [10]
The lawyers take our spirit, but I've stock options galore. [11]
From where Scott McNealy stands, I will fight no more!


They were moved to Intel platforms. Michelangelo ran rife. [12]
But more hackers quit from boredom, and went off to get a life.
And the man once known as Scully, with great glee is heard to state,
"They'll get Windows '95 debugged in 1998" [13]

But sometimes, without warning, in some dull commercial app
A hack of wondrous cleverness emerges from the crap.
A metaphor that's graceful, a real need that it can fill
Double-click upon that icon; the Apple Lisa's living still!


[1] Hewlett Packard (HP) and IBM San Jose were two of the ancestral companies of Silicon Valley, along with Fairchild Semiconductor and a few others

[2] The Apple III was one of the great fiascos of the PC industry. Meant to replace the Apple II, it was so unreliable that official Apple maintenance procedures for Apple III's included picking them up and dropping them six inches onto a hard surface (to re-seat the chips in their sockets).

[3] DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) more or less invented minicomputers, but completely missed the boat on personal computers; they ended up being bought by Compaq in 1999. MIPS made some of the first really high-performance microprocessors.

[4] Xerox Palo Alto Research Center invented most of the technologies used in the Lisa and the Mac (and now, in Windows), including mice, windows, and pull-down menus. Xerox did make some computers using these ideas, and could probably have owned much of the PC market, but they did a truly abysmal job of marketing them.

[5] What You See Is What You Get - WYSIWYG

[6] SCSI - Small Computer Storage Interface - is the standard bus used to connect hard disks and other peripherals to Macs. When the standard was invented, engineers had a choice of pronouncing it "sexy" or "scuzzy"; "scuzzy" won by a wide margin.

[7] It took Microsoft three tries before they came out with a usable graphic user interface (Windows 3.0) and two more (Windows 3.1 and WIndows 95) before they got one that even approached the quality of the original Mac interface. Many people think they still haven't matched it.

[8] The Pentium Divide was, of course, Intel's infamous chip-design error that caused literally millions of Windows computers to give wrong answers to simple division problems.

[9] In Apple's early days, their arch-enemy was IBM (as illustrated in the famous "1984" Macintosh commercial), but by the mid-1990's Apple and IBM were both faced by a greater foe in Microsoft. They teamed up on several projects, including the PowerPC chip and a never-finished new operating system, but it was always at best an uneasy alliance.

[10] RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) is a type of microprocessor architecture that has largely replaced CISC (Complex I.S.C.) microprocessors, except for Intel microprocessors. (Intel, the company that puts the "backwards" in "backwards compatible.")

[11] A passing reference to Apple's ultimately-unsuccessful lawsuit against Microsoft for copying the "look and feel" of the Macintosh .

[12] Michelangelo was one of the first widespread computer viruses that attacked IBM-compatible PC's (but not Macs).

[13] This is the original version of the line. As of today (May 2000) I sing: "They'll get Windows 95 debugged in nineteen-zero-eight (spoken:) damn y2k bugs" But as Y2K memories fade, I'll have to change it again.


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