View Full Version : LISA Noob Questions

September 20th, 2007, 08:11 AM
I am VERY MUCH a noob to this forum and want to say thank you to anyone that can provide info or helpful suggestions to me.

I FOUND A LISA in my storage shed (Lisa I (I think) from about 1983ish) that has the double 3.5" floppy drives and a printer with a mouse. I can not find the keyboard for it or any of the cables to plug it in or connect the printer. What are the first steps that I should take to see in the Lisa is in working condition and to try and restore the unit. I also have seven original (big 2" bidder) owner manuels and the floppies that go with each. I do not want to plug in the system and short anything out after it sitting for twenty something years.

Any info that can help me would be greatly appreciated.

September 20th, 2007, 11:07 AM
Well, one of the first thing I would do, if it were a system we were restoring, would be to let it sit somewhere for a week, turning it on a different side every day to make sure that any liquid that may have got into it would find a way out.

Next, I would remove the housing and give it a good vacuuming to remove all the accumulated crap that settles on things when you let them sit for 20 years. I mean pull everything (taking several pictures might come in handy when you are trying to put it together again) and vacuum/brush/whatever all the boards, cards, nooks, crannies (don't forget to vacuum the power supply REALLY well) so that the dust and dirt don't turn into mud when you, next, clean every surface with some windex and paper towels.

Search through the threads as there are several concerned with DEEP cleaning a computer.

Next, I would check over the cabling to make sure it's all intact and not damaged.

After that, I would pull the drives and clean the heads and rails and lubricate the rails. Blowing the mechanisms clean wouldn't hurt either.

Then, I'd re-assemble everything and give it a shot.

HOWEVER, due to the potential value of the unit, the FIRST thing I would do would be let someone with experience handle the restoration since you might easily turn a valuable piece on Vintage hardware into a fairly ugly paperweight.

September 20th, 2007, 11:24 AM
Thank you very much for the help so far. I forgot to mention this maybe but I do not have any cables at all for the system. I am located in Upstste SC and just want to get the system up and in running condition so that I can sell it. I would like to see how much it is valued at but do not know of any places locally that I could take it too. I would also like to get it cleaned up and if a someone that is a professional could do it reasonably then I would take it there. Once again I do not know anywhere I could take it to get this done. What is the going rate/value of an original LISA? I have seen a lot of people state on different websites that if anyone has one and is selling it then to email the website administer. I have no clue how much I could even get for something like this.

September 20th, 2007, 12:09 PM
A Lisa II (your unit) by itself should get you a thousand or two running, maybe 1/2 a grand not running. How much the plastic has yellowed can also offset the value as well. (I myself have never cared too much about yellowing however)

As your unit has an onboard hard disk (located at the bottom of the unit I believe), & if it's been stored in a safe dry location, I say grab a generic power cord from any modern computer (like, say, the back of a monitor), power it up, & see what you get on screen.

Terry Yager
September 20th, 2007, 03:29 PM
I would follow D69's advice, and then, if you can't find or afford professional assistance, find yourself a variable AC power source. Those old capacitors have to be reformed by slowly bringing up the voltage over a length of time (usually a couple of days will suffice). The last thing you want to do is just plug it in and hit the BigRedSwitch, hoping for the best. Sum'n is sure to pop if you do.


September 20th, 2007, 09:06 PM
I forgot to mention this maybe but I do not have any cables at all for the system.

Yes, you did mention it, but, I was talking about the internal cabling.

There are very few of us in North America that could probably do a complete work-up of a Lisa (and most wouldn't take on the task as the Lisa is a bitch to work with). I've done maybe a dozen when they were a little newer and, I believe, 4 since they've become vintage.

However, shipping to Canada from South Carolina wouldn't be cheap since you'd have to, at the very least, double-box it to get it here in anything like one piece.

Anybody can SAY they can do it, but, ask for references. I couldn't even give you any because the 4 units belonged to the same doctor here in Hamilton and he's been dead for about 8 years.

September 21st, 2007, 01:47 PM
I'm just going to post a large difference in the opinion on worth. Most of the working Lisa I and II's I've seen on ebay in the last year have sold (in working order usually with a small amount of software or manuals) for around $600-700. I don't think it will go above $1000, although even at the 600-700 range it's very good for a newish system that's rare enough to be collectible. It *will* continue to go up in value the longer you keep it (especially if you can clean it and keep it in a nice place with temperature control vs a shed full of rodents, bugs, and rotting bird seed (sorry.. small flashback).

T that's interesting.. I guess I've always assumed systems were more stable than that and I use the plug it in and let it work test. So is there some nice friendly non-EE document on how you do this trick? I suppose I should probably do this with my Kim-1? Fortunately my Apple /// worked fine when I got it and turned it on. I even have the demo disk showing off all it can do. Quite an awesome little program to show it off with.

- John

Terry Yager
September 21st, 2007, 02:25 PM

If you have Michael Nadeau's book, Collectible Microcomputers, (And what serious collector doesn't?), check page 7, under the heading 'A Word of Caution'. If you don't have the book, you should be able to find it on Amazon, etc. Otherwise, perhaps a search of this site with the correct keywords, incantations, rituals, etc. might turn up an old post in which I quoted that section of the book. I remember typing it in once before, but it's been a couple years...


September 21st, 2007, 03:30 PM
Fortunately my Apple /// worked fine when I got it and turned it on. - John

The Apple /// I had lovingly tossed in a corner in the basement for, oh, 15 years or so, spent a few minutes burning 20 years worth of dust off the power suppy when the Variac got up to about 80VAC on the second or third day of reforming but, was fine after that until the rotted pins on a couple of PROMs snapped off.

They've been replaced, but, it's still a work in progress.

Terry Yager
September 21st, 2007, 03:55 PM
Here's a link:



Terry Yager
September 22nd, 2007, 12:11 AM
Oh yeah, just remembered to add this link, which outlines the re-forming procedure in great detail. It even explains how to build your own homebrewn variac.



September 22nd, 2007, 12:39 PM
I mean, it's good advice and all, T, but, think of all the people that are going to miss the experience of an aluminium oxide snowstorm now :)

Terry Yager
September 22nd, 2007, 02:12 PM
IIRC, my personal record is 8 x 4.7uF tantalum caps all going off simultaneously. I wrenched my back hitting the dirt, thinking it was a drive-by (it was that kinda neighborhood).


September 22nd, 2007, 02:34 PM
My worst was a 1000 uF electrolytic on a breadboard. I still have it around somewhere :P

nige the hippy
September 22nd, 2007, 03:16 PM
Been there, done that. My old flat probably still has the hole in the ceiling!

October 21st, 2007, 08:56 PM
Up there in the thread somewhere, I mentioned that I would be hesitant to restore a Lisa because it is not a lot of fun.

I got an e-mail through my site and, guess what?

A damn Lisa2 that doesn't power up and has been used for a doorstop for a number of years.

It's never easy making a living, is it?

January 31st, 2008, 04:00 PM
Well, after all this time, the guy finally dropped off the Lisa 2 system. The whole 9 yards too. Software out the wahzoo, hard drive, cables, manuals, everything but the original boxes.

Guess I have to fix the damn thing now....

June 10th, 2008, 08:42 PM
Well, after all this time, the guy finally dropped off the Lisa 2 system. The whole 9 yards too. Software out the wahzoo, hard drive, cables, manuals, everything but the original boxes.

Guess I have to fix the damn thing now....

How'd it go?


June 10th, 2008, 10:20 PM
How'd it go?


Since parts are kinda scarce, it's still a work in progress.

It's sorta one of those hobby things for days when things are going too well. I'm not getting any pressure as the guy was happy to find someone in the country that would actually touch it.