It’s been almost 22 years since Apple launched the Macintosh; the computer that changed forever how we interact with a computer.
That first Mac operating system, the ‘Mac OS’ was version 1.0. A couple of decades and a new century later, we’re only up to OS ‘X’. Things have changed. Check this Mac OS timeline.
Mac360 received an email message from a Mac user asking how far back the Mac OS goes. Since I came over from the Windows world and wasn’t an original Mac 128k owner like Tera or Ron, I had to do some research.
What I found was a great ‘Mac OS Timeline’. What’s remarkable is how much has changed. Mostly.
Today, with Mac OS X, we have millions of colors (more hardware than software, of course) on screen, while the original Mac OS was two colors. Black and white (shades of gray was just a mixture of black and white).
As my eyes wandered through the list of features for each of the Mac OS versions, starting with System 1 back in 1984, I was struck by the similarities, more than the differences.
For example, System 1 had a desktop, windows, icons, a mouse, drop down menus, scroll bars. The desktop metaphor hasn’t changed much in nearly 22 years.
System 2 came in 1985 and brought a few new touches and some speed increases.
A year later came System 3 and the Hierarchical File System (HFS) which allowed nested folders, the ‘zoom’ folder effect, and more bugs than any Mac OS before its time.
System 4 was a major jump in 1987 as it added multiple monitor support, support for hard drives of 32 megabytes or more. By contrast, my iPod has 60 gigabytes of storage. Multifinder also showed up in System 4.
See the trend? A new OS version each year. How long could that last? Apparently Apple thought they could go faster than that and skipped Mac OS ‘System 5’ altogether. No System 5. Straight to 6.
System 6 bought color to the Mac, but the biggest changes came in 1990 with System 7. Apple’s market share was around 15-percent or so, and System 7, buggy though it was, was a big seller.
Steve Jobs, of course, left Apple in 1985 after a spat with the Apple board of directors. He came back in early 1997, and took charge again in mid 1997. Shortly after that, Apple introduced Mac OS 8.
System 7 stuck around from 1990 to almost 1998 because Apple couldn’t ship a new OS. See? Microsoft is copying Apple’s work from the 1990s and can’t ship a new OS to replace Windows.
The first public beta of Mac OS X shipped in 2000. It was $20.
Then came the cats. The first full release of Mac OS X 10.0 was codenamed ‘Cheetah.’ 10.1 was Puma. 10.2 was Jaguar. 10.3 was Panther, and Tiger is 10.4. Next is Leopard, due late next year or early 2007.
Need more detail than the above? Me, too. Click Here for a lengthy look at the Mac OS from 1984 through 2005.
Of course, the Mac-like history stretches a few years before 1984 with Apple’s Lisa, the Star at Xerox, and probably others. Still, when people think of ‘point and click’ history, they think of the Mac OS.