OS X: Back to the beginning

“It’s hard to believe that 14 years have elapsed since OS X — then Mac OS X — was originally released as a supposedly finished product,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Night Owl. “But it wasn’t quite the first version of Apple’s Unix-based OS to be available to the public. The previous September, Apple sold you a Public Beta, for $29, designed to demonstrate that, first and foremost, the new OS was real and that it would soon be ready for public consumption.”

“I remember the Public Beta well. The interface was good-looking all right, though I chafed at the ‘lickable’ comment from Steve Jobs. Did he really once lick the screen of a Mac as was reported?” Steinberg writes. “One of my editors at the time inserted ‘cartoonish, goofy’ into my description of the Dock.”

“Today, there are well over 70 million Mac users, far more than ever,” Steinberg writes. “The vast majority never touched the original Mac OS. Over 50% are using OS X Yosemite, a record when it comes to the adoption rate.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Apple bought NeXT, but in reality: NeXT took over Apple.MacDailyNews, February 1, 2006

Related article:
Happy 14th birthday, OS X! – March 24, 2015


  1. “…Apple’s Unix-based OS…”

    The engine that has driven everything Apple has done for 14 years. It’s the key, and nobody realizes it. Least of all, Microsoft.

    1. We know that quite well, because once in a while we get reminded in a wisely manner how vulnerable it must be therefore. Listen to me, If you don’t care enough about the little difference here, you might underestimate the true value of the NeXT technology for the success of .
      There is still a lot of NeXT technology under the hood, and the latest beta seems to get a little more stable again, but still far from mavericks.
      building bridges to iOS had its long shadows when it comes to bugs, but. No.
      What is important?
      A lot, but one thing I need to count on is:
      It is just mandatory.

    2. I would agree, that is very true – without NeXT there would be no iOS. I remember when Steve was first showing off the iPhone and announced it ran OS X, and the roar of applause that followed. It has been the cornerstone of everything Apple has done since!

  2. yep, i remember the arrival of the sample “aqua”, interface disk and then – at last – the official incarnation of system X.

    it was revolutionary in many ways and those of us who harken back to the days of system 6 thru 9 can still appreciate the stunning visual beauty of X – among its many other attributes.

    guess that is one reason i stick with that lovely old workhorse snow leopard, which is just so damn reliable and good looking.

    it ain’t as advanced as maverick, but that is a small price to pay for beauty.

    1. Your technique of staying with an OS version that works for you is ignored by many people who “chase upgrades” as if it is automatically worthwhile.

      It makes perfect sense to stick with an OS until either needed 3rd software compatibility or hardware needs require a “move up.”

      An MDN user the other day noted that he still has 2 X-Serves running for about a dozen years each. Cost effective.

    2. I agree. The flattening and dumbing-down of the UI for Yosemite has done OS X a disservice. They didn’t need to give up so much of what was great about OS X, such as the “flowing water” progress bars”.

      There’s a reason that we look upon a beautiful blue lake surrounded by tall green mountains in awe…. it truly is breath-taking. Yosemite is not.

  3. Steve saw the need for networking when Next was created and it was reinforced, according to the recent book on him, after hearing BGates/MS note the world of coming connected devices.

    What Steve did was act on what he saw as obviously coming down the pike on consumer computing.

    1. Yes. I’ve been using Apple products since the late 70s. I very much remember the dark days of Apple. When System 7 came out, it was a really great step forward for the Mac. It cleaned a lot up, and provided a lot of stuff by default that were options or optional installs in System 6.

      Shortly thereafter, Apple went on a binge of operating systems. Rumors and actual announcements were sometimes scary because the vision always seemed so confusing…
      Pink, Taligent, Kaleida, Gershwin, Copland, Rhapsody, not to mention things like OpenDoc.

      Later we had Apple licensing Mac OS and rumors that it would end its hardware business, while on the other hand rumors that Mac OS is what would die. Then there were rumors about BeOS… which almost happened. Apple offered $125 million, and Jean-Louis Gassée wanted $200 million. Apple of course went with NeXT for $429 million.

      When Apple bought NeXT, it was still unclear as to how things would work out at first, but quickly a roadmap was provided where everything made sense. Mac OS would evolve to OS 9 which would run universal binaries, and OS X would allow OS 9 apps to run in “classic mode”.

      All of this in a beautiful interface with pre-emptive multitasking, protected memory, and a Unix base which brought with it a ton of apps, tools and developers.

      Good times.

      1. “Pink, Taligent, Kaleida, Gershwin, Copland, Rhapsody, not to mention things like OpenDoc.”

        How we waited for any of those to pan out and renovate the Mac. During the decade of the ’90s it was like all Mac users were in the wilderness with Steve. If I had a nickel for every time a Windows user (my brother-in-law especially) laughed at my OS choice I’d be able to buy a share of AAPL today.

  4. When I saw OS X demonstrated at MacWorld in Tokyo February, 2000, I said, this could be the death of Windows. I was close.

    Oh, and having used OS X since that time, I have not had a single System related problem. Not one.

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