Making Connections: The ‘Lisa’ Mouse, Steve Jobs and Aspen

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
The "Lisa" mouse, which was Apple's first commercial mouse, is now part of the Aspen HIstorical Society's “Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects" exhibit and is on display at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum.
Aspen Historical Society/Courtesy photo |


‘Steve Jobs’

Isis Theatre, Aspen: 2 p.m., 4:50 p.m., 7:40 p.m.

Movieland, El Jebel: 12:50 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 9:50 p.m.

Richard Roeper mini-review (see complete review at As can be said of most Apple products, this biopic of the tech visionary is a wonder to behold — despite a few irritating glitches. In an eccentric storytelling choice, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle place the plot points in three distinctive, highly impressionistic acts preceding moments when Jobs (Michael Fassbender, in a mesmerizing turn) introduces the Next Big Thing. Classified: R. Running time: 122 minutes. Rating: Three and a half stars.

‘Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects’

Aspen Historical Society’s Wheeler/Stallard Museum

620 W. Bleeker St., Aspen

Exhibit open Tuesday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m.

A little more than two minutes into the trailer for the new film “Steve Jobs,” an image of a young girls manipulating a computer mouse flashes on the screen. The actress in the film — which opened Friday at the Isis Theater in Aspen and Movieland in El Jebel — is portraying Jobs’ daughter, Lisa. The mouse she has in her hand became known as the “Lisa” mouse.

That mouse, according to Wikipedia, was among the first commercial mice sold in the marketplace. Included with the Lisa system in 1983, this mouse established Apple’s mouse as a one-button device for more than 20 years; the original case design was by Bill Dresselhaus, with its formal curving lines made to coordinate with the Lisa.

Interesting, sure. But for Aspenites, the connection to the “Lisa” mouse goes a bit deeper.

During the 1983 International Design Conference in Aspen, Jobs dropped this “Lisa” mouse into a time capsule which was buried in Aspen. This capsule was unearthed in 2013, and the “Lisa” mouse is now part of the Aspen Historical Society’s collection. It’s currently in the “Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects” exhibit.


“The 1983 IDCA theme was ‘The Future Isn’t What it Used to Be.’ Conference attendees gathered to discuss the future of design as well as to provide some ideas, on which to build perceptions about the future,” Aspen Historical Society curator Lisa Hancock writes in the catalog for the exhibit. “Computer entrepreneur Steve Jobs was a speaker at the 1983 IDCA. He conveyed the underlying perception of the conference that, in the future, technology would play an ever-increasing role in daily life.”

Also interesting, given our current addiction to iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices, during his speech in Aspen in 1983, Jobs’ predicted things like “being able to access your electronic mail from the palm of your hand while walking down the street.” A portion of that audio is also available in the “Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects.”

Hancock adds that at the end of the exhibit visitors can vote on their favorite object — the mouse currently is in second place behind the Lift One chair.