Last Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of OS X, Apple’s modern OS built on the technology of Steve Jobs’ NeXT OS.
Looking back over the past 10 years, Macworld’s Dan Moren highlights the importance and integral role OS X had in helping Apple reemerge as an innovator and force on the technological landscape.
Though nobody knew it at the time, the release, codenamed Cheetah, was the first step in transforming Apple from a company poised on the verge of disaster into the second most valuable company in the world…
The coup of Mac OS X, more than anything else, is that it shipped. The road to a new version of the Mac OS was littered with the unmarked graves of projects that had gone before: Taligent. Copland. Gershwin.
I still remember reading old copies of Macworld that offered up inside scoops on upcoming features from Apple’s next-gen OS. Multithreading! Multitasking! Copland was gonna deliver. Oh wait! Rhapsody was going to save the day. Oh wait!
And so on and so forth.
After so many false starts, a shipping version of OS X, though flawed it might have been, was a colossal step forward for Apple. With a completely new interface (why hello there, Dock), OS X took a while to get used to. But as Apple tends to do, it methodically iterated OS X with new features on a fairly consistent schedule. From Jaguar to Panther to Tiger and now Snow Leopard, the OS X of today is vastly different from OS X Cheetah yet maintains the same look, feel, and functionality as the original, albeit with literally hundreds if not thousands of new features.
While everyone looks to the iPod as the golden goose that restored Apple to the top of the tech heap, remember that the reason Apple purchased NeXT in the first place was to acquire a much-needed modern operating system. Without OS X, there’s arguably no iPod, no iPhone, and perhaps, no Apple.
“Frankly, it’s hard not to see the impact of Mac OS X on most of the major decisions Apple has made in the past decade,” Moren writes, “whether it be the importance of iTunes, the transition to Intel processors, or the development of iOS devices—which, after all, are based on the same OS X underpinnings as the Mac.”
It’s incredible to see just how far the Mac and OS X has come in the last 10 years. Today I write on a sleek and relatively lightweight and uper-portable iMac running Snow Leopard. 10 years ago I was using a clunky iMac running Cheetah. Who knows where we’ll be in the next 10 years, but that’s all part of the fun.