(page updated December 21, 2015)
LisaEm is an open-source emulator of Apple's Lisa computer.
Q. What is an Apple Lisa? Is it the first Macintosh?
A. No, this isn't the first Macintosh, although through installing MacWorks on your Lisa you could boot up to system 6 of the MacOS. The Lisa had an entirely business approach and an operating system to cope, meaning that there are no (to my knowledge) games for this system. This emulator is meant for nostalgia purposes only, it would seem.
Q. Do you need a boot ROM? Where can I get some Lisa ROMs?
A. For versions previous to version 1.2.0 of the emulator, yes, you do. Unfortunately, this causes the emulation to be kind of choppy and slow (not if you select the max processing speed, however, though the mouse emulation is still very choppy). The features associated with the two versions of the emulator can be found further below. As for obtaining ROMs, I'm afraid I can't help there. You may want to google them to find out where to obtain them.
Q. Is there an emulator like this for my Mac/Linux?
A. Yes, there is, and you can obtain them on the LisaEm website. This guide assumes that you are using Windows, though the setup is about the same on OSX. As for Linux, I have never tested it.
Q. The emulator only sees *.dc42 files! My disk images are *.IMG or *.IMAGE files. What do I do?
A. In the file type box, select “All”. The extension doesn't matter, so long as the information still exists.
1. Download version 1.0.0 of LisaEM from the version history of the LisaEM website.
2. You have to obtain some version H boot ROMs, named boot.hi and boot.lo respectively. A thorough search of this website may provide some answers, but I can't help more than that. I can, however, tell you that there will be some files with a lot of numbers, but don't be daunted by that. Simply rename 3410175H.bin and 3410176H.bin to boot.hi and boot.lo respectively. These are the only two ROMs you need.
3. You'll need an operating system! LisaOS 2 and 3 are available on the Macintosh Garden, though I recommend sticking with 3, since I sometimes had some trouble installing 2. There isn't much of a change at any rate, and the software available is about the same. All Lisa software that I know of is available here.
4. Now that you have all this, you can start the installation process. First, open the emulator. Then, go to File⇒Preferences. See the part that says “Lisa ROM”? Point to the boot.hi file that you obtained earlier (preferably in the same folder as the application. BOTH roms need to be present!). The rest of the preferences should be okay, though you can tweak them if you want, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you know what you're doing. (Note: For new users, please make sure you have a hard drive selected by going into the ports tab in Preferences, and stating where you want it. This might cause issues later on.)
5. Go to File⇒Insert Diskette… From there, select the first of the Lisa OS disks for the version that you want (i.e. Disk 1 of 5) The go to Key⇒Power. You will be greeted by a screen asking you what size disk you want. Select 10MB for now. Click “OK”. (Note: You may be asked if you want to de-serialize the Lisa Installation disk at some point during this step. Click “Yes”, otherwise you won't be able to install.)
6. The Lisa will now boot from the ROM. You will see two possible ways to boot, though the pictures aren't very descriptive. The picture on the bottom is the Hard Drive, and the picture on the top is the Floppy Drive. Select this to boot into the setup screen.
7. Select install from the list of options. When asked if you want to format and/or erase the hard drive, select yes. You will also be asked if you want to partition the hard drive for MacWorks as well; you can select the amount of memory you want (within some limitations), though you don't absolutely need to if you want to run Lisa OS. Select any option you wish.
8. Continue through the installation instructions, inserting disks when asked. When the installation is complete, reboot your Lisa, either through the installation disk or otherwise, and enjoy! You have successfully installed Lisa OS in an emulated Lisa! Now you can install Lisa software as well on the LisaOS desktop!
(Note: to boot into the OS at a regular boot, select the hard drive image when prompted)
Main difference between versions
1.0.0 supports both LisaOS and MacWorks through emulation utilizing the ROMs. 1.2.0+ was designed to be romless, meaning that the creators emulated the boot sector of the roms through different means. This meant that MacWorks was no longer supported, but it also meant that the LisaOS emulation was faster and less choppy (mousewise). If you only want to run Lisa sofware in LisaOS, then I recommend getting the latest version from the website. If you want to experience true, accurate emulation, then 1.0.0 is for you.
Lisa Software: Where to?
Yes, Lisa software is few and far between. There are quite a few websites that host all of the software. A Google search will yield a lot of results.
Assistance might be found in our forum.