Though Apple’s original Mac OS trumped its contemporaries in ease of use, it became apparent in the 1990s that it was falling behind on technology. Features of competing operating systems, like preemptive multitasking and protected memory, were the envy of many Mac users. Apple began numerous projects to modernize the Mac OS, but those projects were eventually canceled as Apple’s leadership looked to the outside for a successor to the Mac OS.
In 1996, the company purchased Jobs’s Next Computer and used its NextStep operating system as the basis for what would become Mac OS X. Released in March 2001, Mac OS X’s underpinnings were based on the venerable BSD open-source operating system and finally brought those modern features to the Mac. It would go on to become the foundation not only for the Mac OS we all use today, but also, eventually, for the iOS mobile platform that powers Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.