The faithful came out in force Friday night. Unix geeks, goths, former Next developers, and club kids with candy-colored hair packed Cupertino's Elite Computers, which sits just across De Anza Boulevard from the Apple campus, to be among the first in the world to get their hands on Apple's next-generation operating system, OS X.
Customers completely filled the store and spilled out into the spotlight-filled parking lot. Many who turned out were donning OS X tattoos. Even Steve Wozniak, one of two inventors of the Apple computer, showed up.
"We haven't discussed moving to OS X yet, because it's just released," said Woz. "As a teacher I've got to try it out and get familiar with it first. But the primary fundamental mission of my class is to look to the future. Mac OS X is the future so that's where we're going to go."
When the clock struck midnight, March 24, five sport utility vehicles pulled up onto the sidewalk in front of the store, and OS X arrived to cheers and whistles from the crowd.
Lois Nickens was the first person to get his hands on a copy of OS X. Nickens said he's been waiting for OS X since the announcement of Copland -- Apple's initial code name for a next-generation operation system. "I've got a [OS X] shipment coming in tomorrow at my office," he said, "but nobody's going to be there to receive it. So I thought I better just get another one."
Nickens said he planned on installing a copy on his G4 that night, and would install the second copy on his iBook.
Likewise, Bill Teeple, an NT administrator who has a Mac at home says he just couldn't wait any longer. "I've been waiting for it for twelve years. I was at Macworld Expo and saw the features built into it on top of the beta and just had to get my hands on it."
When asked why he was there at midnight, Tom Affinito replied that he'd been waiting for the OS for a decade since his days as a Next developer. "I helped on the Next interface builder team a long time ago," said Affinito. "I'm very excited to see the software we worked on finally coming out. I have a spare machine that I'm going to put it on. I want to play with Java and the development environment."
Elite Computers owner Thomas Armes said he was overwhelmed by the event, which completely surpassed his previous midnight promotions for the iMac and OS 9.
"To have that kind of turnout at midnight is just amazing," said Armes. "It's hard to get people to come out at midnight. It's just over the top." Armes said he was still experiencing brisk sales on Saturday morning, and even had to call in additional salespeople to handle the volume.
"I think we'll sell out [the first shipment] by Sunday," he said.