In 1984, Apple started using the Macintosh operating system in its computers, which later became known as the Mac OS. Its introduction of a graphically driven interface (GUI) had been revolutionary, and departed from the plain command line interfaces used on other platforms, such as Microsoft’s DOS.
The Mac OS in its ‘Classic’ form had outlasted the useful life of its peers and influenced their GUI-based descendants, such as Windows 3.1 and 95. However, with the year 2000 approaching, the Mac OS was looking a little frayed around the edges. Clashes between System Extensions, required to deliver extra functionality and run external hardware, meant that Macs had become prone to crashes and system freezes – a serious issue when producing professional projects. Advances were still being made with each new version, but the Classic system had become stymied by its architecture. For example, the lack of protected memory meant that if just one program crashed, then the whole system would go down. For Apple, its dream of a home grown, next generation operating system had died in the mid-90s with the failure of the Copland project.
Instead, in 1996 Apple acquired the Unix-based object-oriented programming environment, OpenStep, when it purchased NeXT; the company Steve Jobs founded in 1985 after his resignation from Apple. Elements of Copland found their way into Mac OS 8, Jobs returned as Apple’s ‘interim’ CEO and behind the scenes the company began to work on a new Unix-based system.
Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah
24 March, 2001
On 5 January, 2000, at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs unveiled Mac OS X 10.0. “Apple’s innovation is leading the way in personal computer operating systems once again,” he told a world dominated by Windows 98. However, Mac users would have to wait more than a year for the full product to hit the shelves.
Some of the technology behind it had first appeared in Mac OS X Server 1.0 in March 1999. A hybrid of a Unix kernel, Unix-based application programming interfaces (APIs) and the existing Mac OS 8.5.1, the server software featured the Classic interface, the ‘Cocoa’ environment for running native Mac OS X Server programs and the ‘Blue Box’ environment, which would launch and run the Classic Mac OS in a window. In September 2000, Apple released the Public Beta of Mac OS X 10.0, ostensibly for the use of developers and early adopters.
Following this trial period, and responding to the feedback of 75,000 users, the full retail version shipped on 24 March, 2001. Codenamed Cheetah, it cost £99 (£74 for owners of the Public Beta). It ran on Power Macs with G3 and G4 PowerPC processors, and required 128MB of RAM, which was a sizeable leap in memory demands.
With a core comprised of the open-source Unix-based Darwin kernel, Cheetah revolutionised the Finder with a new visual appearance that offered luminous and semi-transparent elements, such as buttons, scroll bars and windows. The Dock provided access to applications, complete with fluid animation, while under the bonnet Mac OS X offered protected memory, fully internet-standard TCP/IP networking and full pre-emptive multitasking for smoother operation among multiple applications.
Apple’s new operating system offered 3D graphics and gaming via OpenGL, while the Quartz 2D engine powered text and graphics. Cheetah also introduced a stable version of Carbon, an API that allowed backward compatibility with applications written for Mac OS 8 and 9, and provided the Classic Environment to run older programs in a similar fashion to the Blue Box of the server. Around 350 Mac OS X applications were available on the day of its launch. Two months later Apple opened its first retail stores, in Virginia and California.
Mac OS X 10.1 Puma
25 September, 2001
Almost four months after shipping Mac OS X 10.0, Apple previewed version 10.1, codenamed Puma. “This new version of Mac OS X is really fast, and incorporates many suggestions from our users, such as the moveable Dock that can be placed on the left, bottom or right edge of the screen,” explained Steve Jobs at his Macworld Expo Keynote on 18 July. “We’ve fixed a lot of bugs, and added a lot of great new features, like burning CDs right from the Finder and the ability to seamlessly network with Windows clients and servers.”
Costing £99, or free for existing Mac OS X users, Puma had enhanced system performance, especially for application launch time and window resizing. New system status icons on the menu bar provided easier access to commonly used functions, convenient monitoring of wireless networks and battery charging. Sending, receiving, opening and reading files became easier with the new automated file extension management capability, and there was a DVD player with the ability to burn DVD-R data discs directly in the Finder. Puma also introduced ColorSync 4.0 with support for ICC colour management and easier printing, while there were enhancements to AppleScript, OpenGL and audio capabilities, as well as an improved iDisk based on WebDAV.
Major Mac OS X applications available at launch included Intuit Quicken Deluxe 2002, Alias/Wavefront’s Maya, Internet Explorer 5.1, Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, Macromedia FreeHand 10, Aspyr’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, Aladdin’s Stuffit Deluxe, Pro Create Painter 7, FileMaker Pro, and a host of products from Symantec.
QuarkXPress and Adobe Photoshop were still notable by their absence from the roster, though a greatly anticipated application was Microsoft’s Office v.X for Mac.
A month after the launch, Apple introduced “the iPod – a breakthrough MP3 music player that stores up to 1,000 CD-quality songs on its super-thin 5GB hard drive.”
Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar
24 August, 2002
Previewed in May 2002 by Steve Jobs at Apple’s worldwide developers conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, introduced a host of new features. These included: Quartz Extreme, a hardware accelerated version of the Quartz graphics and compositing engine; an enhanced Finder, with spring-loaded folders and instant searching; and version 6 of QuickTime, making it the first complete solution for industry standard MPEG-4 video and AAC audio streaming.
Jaguar was the first Apple operating system to come with Rendezvous (since renamed Bonjour), a technology that locates other devices on an IP network, such as computers, and lets other users access their services. There was also increased Windows network interoperability with SMB browsing and sharing, as well as built-in PPTP VPN security. Apple’s AIM-compatible instant messaging software, iChat, was built into Mac OS X and integrated with the new Mail and Address Book applications. Jaguar also shipped with Unix tools for developers, while the 18-year-old Happy Mac startup icon was replaced by the Apple logo.
Adverts extolling the benefits for Windows users, who could ‘switch’ to the Mac had been running all year, but Apple had not yet addressed the fact that only around 10 per cent of the 20 million existing Apple users had switched to Mac OS X as their primary operating system. Meanwhile, Windows XP, which shipped just after Mac OS X 10.1, had sold more than 50 million licences in under a year.
Jaguar’s launch was marked by late night kick-off events at the 35 Apple retail stores in the US. Around 100,000 copies of the £99 software were sold worldwide in the first weekend. “Jaguar is our fastest out-of-the-gate OS release ever, and it’s looking like a home run,” Steve Jobs said about the sales figures. “The reviews are off the charts, and customers are raving about Jaguar’s stability, speed, new features and Windows compatibility.”
At September’s Apple Expo Paris, Apple announced that from January 2003, all new Mac models would only boot into Mac OS X, though they would be able to run Mac OS 9 applications through the Classic software.
Mac OS X 10.3 Panther
24 October, 2003
The year began with Apple launching a raft of products, among them Safari, iLife, Keynote, Final Cut Express, X11, the groundbreaking 12in and 17in PowerBook G4 models, and the Xserve RAID storage system was introduced. Al Gore joined Apple’s board of directors. The iTunes Music Store appeared in April and sold over a million songs in its first week. There were seven million Mac OS X users by the middle of the year, which also saw the introduction of the Power Mac G5, featuring the world’s first 64-bit desktop processor and the industry’s first 1GHz front-side bus.
However, the announcement of a new version of the operating system was delayed until the WWDC in June, with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther finally shipping on 24 October. “Panther sets the new gold standard for operating systems,” explained Steve Jobs. “With more than 150 new features, we’re delivering innovations today that will not be seen in any other operating system for years to come.”
One of these was Exposé, a revolutionary way to instantly view all open windows by reducing their size so that they all fit on a Mac’s screen. Powered by the Quartz graphics engine, Exposé proved to be a breakthrough in working with multiple files, applications and projects. The new Finder provided one-click access by putting a user’s favourite folders, storage, servers and iDisk in one convenient location, while offering dynamic browsing of the network for Mac, Windows and Unix file servers. Fast User Switching allowed several people to use the same Mac without having to quit applications or log out.
Panther also introduced FileVault, a 128-bit encryption technology designed to ensure that data in the home directory is kept secure, and Font Book to provide system-level font management. Enhancements were made to Preview, Address Book, iDisk and Mail, while Windows compatibility increased, so files, printers and network services could be shared with Windows users.
The price of the operating system remained at £99 and its speed increases were widely welcomed.
Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
29 April, 2005
“Mac OS X Tiger will come out long before Longhorn,” claimed Steve Jobs in January 2005 at the San Francisco Macworld Expo. He was referring to the codename for the Microsoft operating system that would eventually emerge as Windows Vista.
First announced at WWDC in June 2004, Tiger finally shipped on 29 April, 2005, at a reduced price of £89, prompting Jobs to proclaim that: “Mac OS X Tiger is the most innovative and secure desktop operating system ever created. Tiger’s groundbreaking new features like Spotlight and Dashboard will change the way people use their computers, and drive our competitors nuts trying to copy them.”
Tiger required a minimum 256MB of memory and was designed to run on any Mac with a PowerPC G5, G4 or G3 processor, and built-in FireWire. As well as search tool Spotlight and widget access utility Dashboard, Tiger introduced native 64-bit application support. It included QuickTime 7, which supported the H.264 video codec, live video resizing, zero-configuration streaming and extensive surround sound, while the revamped iChat offered dramatically better picture quality over the same internet bandwidth.
The Automator workflow application allowed users to automate repetitive tasks without complex programming and Safari gained a full-featured RSS reader. Mail 2 was revamped with a new user interface, Spotlight searching, and .Mac syncing, plus you could now view emailed images as a full-screen slideshow. Apple introduced Xgrid for distributed computing tasks, while Core Image and Core Video were introduced to provide the foundation for new image and video processing applications.
“Mac OS X Tiger is a giant leap over its predecessor, Panther,” lauded PC World’s Narasu Rebbapragada. “For me, the Spotlight search and Smart Folders features are worth the purchase price.”
Jobs was correct in his prediction, as Windows Vista shipped in 2006, and offered new security controls, new search facilities and a brand new design. In June 2005, the two millionth copy of Tiger was sold, and Apple announced a move to use Intel processors in all Macs by the end of 2007.
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
26 October, 2007
Previewed at WWDC in August 2006, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard offered around 300 new features. Chief among these was Time Machine, a utility that automatically backed up your files in case they need to be restored later; Spaces, a new way to switch between groups of applications required for various tasks; and Boot Camp, which made it possible to run Windows natively on Intel-based Macs. Core Animation, a new graphics technology made it easy to create visual effects and animations, and joined major enhancements in Universal Access and new features in Mail and iChat. The redesigned 3D Dock with Stacks offered a new way to organise files for quick and easy access with just one click, while Quick Look offered instant full-screen, high-resolution views of virtually anything, even media files, from any view in the Finder.
“Breakthrough features like Time Machine and Spaces are good examples of how Mac OS X leads the industry in operating system innovation”, said Steve Jobs. “While Microsoft tries to copy the version of OS X we shipped a few years ago, we’re leaping ahead again with Leopard”.
“In my view, Leopard is better and faster than Vista, with a set of new features that make Macs even easier to use,” wrote Walt Mossberg in The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile Claudine Beaumont, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said of Time Machine: “It’s simple and intuitive, and the clever graphical user interface makes restoring files much easier than rifling through root directories or complicated menus. This feature is worth the money on its own, especially if your usual ‘housekeeping’ routines leave something to be desired.”
While maintaining full performance and compatibility for existing 32-bit Mac OS X applications and drivers, Leopard also allowed applications to take complete advantage of native 64-bit processing. This was in keeping with both Windows Vista and Linux, which were already taking advantage of this technology. Leopard ran on both PowerPC and Intel Macs, but support for the G3 processor was dropped.
At the other end of the scale, Jobs unveiled the iPhone to an unsuspecting public on 9 January, 2007 at Macworld Expo.
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
28 August, 2009
“We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more”, said Bertrand Serlet, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering at the now traditional OS preview at 2009’s WWDC. “In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world’s most advanced operating system”.
Launched just over a year after Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard offered 64-bit versions of applications including Mail, iCal, iChat and Finder (completely rewritten in Apple’s native Cocoa API). In order to take advantage of multi-core processors, Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) was integrated throughout the operating system, from new system-wide APIs to high-level frameworks and programming language extensions. It could take advantage of the power of graphic processing units (GPUs) using OpenCL, a C-based open standard. Snow Leopard included QuickTime X, which featured a redesigned full-screen player that allowed users to easily view, record, trim and share video, as well as a 64-bit version of Safari 4 that was up to 50 per cent faster and resistant to crashes caused by plug-ins. It also featured built-in support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, the only desktop operating system to do so. However, it would only run on Intel-based Macs with at least 1GB of RAM.
Snow Leopard was released as an upgrade for Mac OS X Leopard users for £25, was half the size of the previous version and freed up to 7GB of drive space once installed. “The combination of the refinements, the performance enhancements and the new features means that paying the asking price is a no-brainer,” reported The Guardian.
In the meantime, Apple sold its one millionth iPhone 3G just three days after its launch on 11 July, 2008. This feat was repeated by the 3GS, which also racked up sales of over one million within three days of its launch on 18 June, 2009. Meanwhile, the App Store swelled to over 100,000 apps, with over two billion downloads by Q3 2009.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Expected Summer 2011
On 20 October, 2010, Apple gave a sneak peek of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Scheduled to ship this summer, the operating system is inspired by many of the iPad’s software innovations.
Presented by Steve Jobs, the Back to the Mac session introduced some elements of Lion such as the Mac OS App Store, which follows a similar model to the online resource for iPhone/iPad users and will provide one-step installation of Apps and automatic updates. The full-screen display of apps, as seen on the iPad, will become a standard feature of Lion, allowing users to bring an app to full-screen with one click, switch to another full-screen app with a swipe of the trackpad and swipe back to the desktop to access multi-window apps. Whenever you download a program from the App Store, it will be displayed on Launch Pad.
Launch Pad will be a new way to access and launch all applications on the Mac. One swipe with a gesture-capable device will display multiple pages of apps, and you can arrange them any way you like by dragging an application’s icon to a new location or by grouping them in folders.
Utilities in Snow Leopard such as Exposé, Dashboard and Spaces are brought together in Lion’s Mission Control, which offers an innovative new view of everything running on your Mac, allowing you to instantly navigate anywhere.
“Lion brings many of the best ideas from iPad back to the Mac, plus some fresh new ones like Mission Control that Mac users will really like,” said Jobs at the event. “Lion has a ton of new features, and we hope the few we had time to preview today will give users a good idea of where we are headed.”
Apple previewed some further features of Lion in February, when it released a developer preview. These included a new version of Mail, plus AirDrop, a way of syncing Macs wirelessly. An updated version of FileVault will encrypt the whole system. Read more on Lion’s features in the News section.