July 25-31: Lisa, Apple Setback in Microsoft Lawsuit
Published October 28th, 2004

This week in Apple History (July 25-31), the Lisa project officially got under way. The Lisa would be Apple's first GUI-based computer, but it would take the Mac to get it right. Funny enough, it was this week in1979 that the project started, and it was the same week in 1982 that the project's team first got all of Lisa's software to work together.

This week in 1989, however, was a more important week for Apple. It was then that Apple was dealt the first of many setbacks in its lawsuit against Microsoft for copyright infringement regarding Windows. While Apple sued Microsoft for 189 counts of copyright infringement in Windows 2.0.3, the judge overseeing the case threw out 179 of them this week.

While we are on the subject, note that it was copyright infringement for which Apple was suing Microsoft. Today, Apple has been relying on patents to protect its GUI and user-interface innovations, making any new such lawsuits against would-be copycats a much different case. You can read more on this in John Kheit's Devil's Advocate column.

Moving ahead to 1997, we see what would end up being the beginning of a wholesale boardroom shake up orchestrated by returned-CEO Steve Jobs. Delano E. Lewis, president and CEO of National Public Radio, was the first of Apple's board members to be asked to return his key to the executive wash room.

You can find more information on many of the entries below in Owen Linzmayer's excellent Apple Confidential 2.0. The other entries can be found in TMO's archives, and we link to articles whenever we can.

July 25-31

1979: Apple's ill-fated Lisa project gets under way as Ken Rothmuller is hired as project manager. The Lisa had began life in the fall of 1978 when Steve Jobs and William "Trip" Hawkins III, manager of marketing planning, began brainstorming about a next-generation project that would break from the Apple II mold. Following a visit to Xerox PARC just months later, Jobs pushes for a graphical user interface and other Alto-inspired features. After complaining that there was no way they could incorporate all these features and stick to the original schedule and $2,000 target, Rothmuller was fired for being uncooperative (of course, he would be proven correct in due time).

1982: Three years after the Lisa project was initiated, the Lisa team finally manages to get its entire collection of applications to function together for the first time. By September, the Lisa would be officially declared ready for market, and it would actually ship to much fanfare the following January.

1989: U.S. District Judge William W. Schwarzer rules in Microsoft's favor, severely limiting the scope of Apple's copyright infringement lawsuit. Apple had originally sued Microsoft the previous Saint Patrick's Day for similarities between Windows 2.03 and the Macintosh. In all, there were originally 189 contested visual displays, but the judge ruled that all but 10 of them were covered by the 1985 licensing agreement negotiated by CEOs John Sculley and Bill Gates.

1993: Apple buys the Big Idea Group's lightbulb logo for use with the Newton. Alfred J. Mandel's Palo Alto-based marketing consulting firm called the Big Idea Group had been using a calligraphic logo of a lightbulb for two years. Shortly after Apple began promoting its Newton technology in 1992, Mandel received calls from friends asking if he had had anything to do with the personal digital assistant because the Newton logo used in Apple brochures and ads looked suspiciously like the BIG logo. As an Apple alum,

Mandel initially offered his former employer a nonexclusive license to use his firm's logo on the Newton, but fearing a protracted lawsuit, Mandel settled out of court under undisclosed terms.

1997: Delano E. Lewis, president and CEO of National Public Radio, resigns from Apple's board of directors, citing pressing time demands at NPR. Lewis' departure comes on the heels of Gilbert F. Amelio's resignation as CEO at the beginning of the month and presages a major board shake up that will be announced at the Macworld Expo in Boston the following month.