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Looking Back At OS X's Origins

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-fail-at-history dept.

GUI 312

DJRumpy writes "Macworld Weekly has an interesting look at the history of OS X from its early origins in 1985 under NeXT and the Mach Kernel to Rhapsody, to its current iteration as OS X. An interesting, quick read if anyone is curious about the timeline from Apple's shaky '90s to their current position in the market. There's also an interesting link at the bottom talking about the difference between the original beta and the release product that we see today."

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312 comments

ars technica on os x (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637566)

Check out Ars' run down too: http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2010/09/macos-x-beta.ars [arstechnica.com]

Re:ars technica on os x (3, Interesting)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638642)

Other links might be of interest to the /. crowd too, like info on the hack that allowed Darwin or OS X (up to 10.4.x IIRC) to run on some older (PPC) hardware that didn't support it. It was an open-source utility called XPostFacto [macsales.com] With an Ultra-160 SCSI or ATA interface card for acceptable disk performance, an old 9600 worked surprisingly well. Having 12 RAM slots, a 9600 could hold up to 1.5 gig of RAM, which is pretty decent for something made in the 90s.

ObGrammar flame: it's/its (0, Flamebait)

hessian (467078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637638)

from the i-fail-at-history dept.

Don't also fail at English:

Macworld Weekly has an interesting look at the history of OS X from it's early origins in 1985

Its = belonging to It

It's = contraction for "it is"

Knowing these rules can save your life!!1!

Re:ObGrammar flame: it's/its (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638154)

Strong Bad said [homestarrunner.com] it best:

Oh, If you want it to be possessive, it's just I-T-S. But if it's supposed to be a contraction then it's I-T-apostrophe-S. Scalawag.

Finder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637672)

The only thing I really miss from Windows is the File Explorer. Finder works, but its horizontal scrolling mode, where the view is never as wide as the filenames, is really annoying.

Re:Finder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637762)

The windows File Explorer is the absolute worse thing ever. Column View is the best.

Re:Finder (2, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637924)

Double click the resize knob at the bottom of the column, it will size itself to fit all file names in.

Re:Finder (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638916)

When you need to do it every time you select a new directory, it gets old real quick. There should be an auto-resize option.

Re:Finder (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638436)

The only thing I really miss from Windows is the File Explorer. Finder works, but its horizontal scrolling mode, where the view is never as wide as the filenames, is really annoying.

You can do a "New Finder Window" in OS X. There might be something similar in Windows, but I haven't found it. Of course I'm still on XP, so ...

Re:Finder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638864)

Windows Explorer and Finder are both sad jokes when compared to something like Konqueror or Dolphin. How do you non directory opus using Windows users get by without tabs and split screen view in your file manager? For that matter, what happened to the "go up one directory" button that you used to have.

Re:Finder (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639284)

How do you non directory opus using Windows users get by without tabs and split screen view in your file manager?

Total Commander [ghisler.com] .

I was promised Interesting (0, Offtopic)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637706)

This article is no such thing, I demand my money back.

our motto... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637710)

"Apple Computer -- proudly going out of business since 1977!"

Re:our motto... (5, Interesting)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639336)

Apple in the early 90s was a terrible company with shitty, slow, bug-ridden products (maybe I'm biased - I owned a Performa 5200) and terrible customer service. It certainly didn't help that their share price was less than a loaf bread.

To understand how they got from 1996 to where they are today you need to remember that, flow of funds aside, it was actually NeXT that acquired Apple. Apple didn't pick up an operating system - NeXT acquired a hardware distribution channel.

NeXT. Thanks. (2, Informative)

kwerle (39371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637736)

Thank you, editors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nextstep [wikipedia.org]

Re:NeXT. Thanks. (1)

Chaostrophy (925) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638072)

NeXTstep used a variety of cap options, NextSTEP......ah, the late 1980s-early 1990s!

Re:NeXT. Thanks. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638088)

copy and pasted from Wikipedia.

"Next, Inc. (later Next Computer, Inc. and Next Software, Inc. and stylized as NeXT) was an American computer company headquartered in Redwood City, California, that developed and manufactured a series of computer workstations intended for the higher education and business markets.

Rhapsody Memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637748)

I was in college when Rhapsody RC2 was in existence, I still have a copy or two floating around and the ISO's on my fileserver. Good times, good times.

Re:Rhapsody Memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638158)

@AnonymousCoward #torrent plz

What the article doesn't mention (5, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637790)

Is Steves war on color in the Operating System. Every single release of OS X has removed significant amounts of color from the operating system and applications. The latest iTunes is just another example of that, I absolutely hate it because I cannot quickly glance at the icons and figure out which one is which. Maybe it's just a rationalization 20 years later for why Apple didn't adopt color graphics earlier.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (2, Funny)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637862)

What the article doesn't mention is Steves war on color in the Operating System

Maybe that's why he is always wearing those damn black turtlenecks.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (-1, Troll)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638164)

Black is a color .... so is gray and silver or whatever the color they use now is called.

Yes, I'm being pedantic, but seeing how the GP was mod'ed "Redundant" for stating a rather insightful opinion, I see that a fanboy or two has mod points and I feel like karma whoring.

So fanboys, gimme my "+5 Insightful".

Come on, I got fresh K-Y iiiiiii.....

Re:What the article doesn't mention (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638316)

Would you rather have your OS X or iTunes look like this? While these colors make the Amiga desktop stand out from the black-and-white Mac or C64 GEOS of the day, it's also extremely garish:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b3/Amiga_Workbench_1_0.png [wikimedia.org]
(zoom 300% to recreate the old 14 inch look of Amiga)

Ick. Well at least it could do preemptive tasking.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638452)

Actually for the day it was great.
It did have color and real multitasking. Back then UIs where very new. IT actually got better over time and you could customize it a lot.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638568)

Once plain look of Workbench got good enough - from the setups I've seen it was almost "you could customize it too much" (yes, "in the eye of the beholder/owner/user, et al." - but I wonder how many people were put off by such creations during random demonstration)

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639164)

I don't customize anything. I just use the default of whatever's given to me (except Windows, when I switch to the classic style because it's faster).

On my Amiga 500 it still has that garish blue-orange look, overlaid with a File Manager that has all the CLI commands down the center and you just click them to issue the command (example copy df0:resume ram:resume). I often don't load Commodore's Workbench at all.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638726)

On the other hand Workbench 2's color scheme is a lot like the current OSX: grey with blue highlights. Maybe that's why I like OSX so much, feel's like home.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1, Informative)

drerwk (695572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637886)

Maybe it's just a rationalization 20 years later for why Apple didn't adopt color graphics earlier.

Every Apple I've had, starting with the II+ has had color graphics.

Oops. (4, Informative)

drerwk (695572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637940)

Sorry for self reply - my first Mac was a IIci; yes color was missing from the Mac between 1984 and '87.

Wish I could delete my previsou. post

Re:Oops. (3, Insightful)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637992)

Kinda sad the Apple IIgs had a Mac style GUI in color before the Mac did.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (5, Interesting)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638052)

Steve Jobs was fanatical about WYSIWYG on the Mac. Since there were few color printers available in the 80's, it was common knowledge that Jobs felt that color display violated his WYSIWYG philosophy.

The good old days when Desktop Publishing was the new technology...

Re:What the article doesn't mention (3, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638098)

Maybe it's just a rationalization 20 years later for why Apple didn't adopt color graphics earlier.

Maybe it's just the realization that most software developers do a crappy enough job in black and white that giving them even more freedom to screw up in even more garish ways isn't that great of an idea. Really. You may hate Steve for this, but if it avoids a system looking like Microsoft Windows' Default - Blue Luna [wikipedia.org] , it's worth it.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638228)

There is a happy middle there, and I thought Apple had found it. I actually do sort of like the general theme in Snow Leopard, but I absolutely HATE the new iTunes look because they went overboard taking color out of it. Now it's just dull with 0 increase in usability(and don't get me started on how much I hate the new icon).

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638356)

What about the re-orientation of the close,min, max buttons? WTF do they think this is, Gnome?

Seriously, It's been close, min, max left to right since the beginning. Why the hell the change now?

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639144)

What about the re-orientation of the close,min, max buttons? WTF do they think this is, Gnome?

Seriously, It's been close, min, max left to right since the beginning. Why the hell the change now?

When you press the green +button, iTunes minimizes to the mini player [macgenie.co.uk] , with that same vertical orientation.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638572)

Then what's with the "lickable" buttons?

BTW, neither Windows Vista nor 7 look like that.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638782)

I actually would like to see "make everything greyscale" button and keyboard shortcut in taskbar/etc.; too often colors screams at the eyes for no good reason.

Maybe that's just because of how I usually used C64 - on a small B&W Soviet TV. It actually made things better IMHO; 16 levels of grey looks quite a bit more refined than 16 colors. Hundreds levels of grey does tend to look that way too, when compared with poor choice of colors (there's one moment when Blue Luna looks fine - when it displays OS shutdown menu, which makes rest of the screen greyscale)

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638928)

You may hate Steve for this, but if it avoids a system looking like Microsoft Windows' Default

What? I hate the OS X look because it reminds me of that. But it is worse, with its scrollbars and progress bars that look like toothpaste, and window buttons so small they make me feel like I'm 82, half blind, and have arthritis trying to click them.

The user interface achieved perfection with the OS/2, Windows 95 look and feel.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638336)

Steve is just making you realize how important color is by taking it away.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (2, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638492)

You're just holding it wrong!

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

DA-MAN (17442) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638926)

You're just holding it wrong!

That's what she said!

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638784)

I think a good bit of it was to keep the cost down.
Remember that the Mac shipped with only 128k at first.
No expansion was offered.
And no that was not a lot of memory in 1984. The Apple III that shipped in 1980 had 128k expandable to 512k
The Commodore B machine "yes I know it was slightly less successful than the AppleIII" Shipped with 128K
The Apple IIc which shipped in 1984 also had 128 k.
So you had 8 bit machines shipping with 128k of ram years before the Mac did.

The Mac was supposed to be a "cheap" computer for the masses.
It started off with a 6809e and 64k of ram.

The Mac shipped with only 128k because 64kb chips where the standard at that time. 64kb*16== 128k. It was at the the time the cheapest memory system you could use.
When chip size jumped to 256kb you saw the MacPlus at 512K.
It was all about money.

Re:What the article doesn't mention (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638848)

Aesthetically, a choice to de-emphasize the "ZOMG LOOKIT I GOTS SCROLLBARS AND TITLE BAR AND ICONZZZZ" in favor of letting the content in your apps themselves take center stage is not *necessarily* a bad thing.

If the "plumbing" of the OS & the window manager is overshadowing the content in the apps to the point of distracting users, I'd say that toning down the window manager is probably a reasonable decision from a design standpoint. I don't know if there's anything to indicate how the move towards more and more gray-scale in OS X affects usability, but the consistent & muted layout for the window manager helps minimize distractions for me, so I don't mind it so much. Given Apple's focus on usability, I wouldn't be surprised if they had *some* data indicating that this was the case, but I'm not aware of any published studies on this.

That said, I'm not primarily a mouse-clicker, I like my keyboard tools like Quicksilver for handling many routine tasks and commonly-used apps, so if you asked me which icon was which from my apps folders, I would probably be hard pressed to identify some of them.

flying cars (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637852)

I don't want to be a whiner, but I don't understand what OS X fans are so lyrical about. OS X still has no option to make my car fly, nor does it allow me to play tennis outside in my iTennisCourt, and swim in my iSwimmingPool. Do OS X fans also go crazy over other office equipment, such as staplers or paperclips?

Re:flying cars (2, Funny)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638256)

You just have to know where to hold down the option key when clicking.

Find an old Mac SE at a thrift store, hit the debug switch on the side, and type in G 41D89A

Even if the hard drive is bad, it opens a portal to a parallel universe.

Re:flying cars (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638474)

Only if they are red swingline staplers.

Re:flying cars (1)

Kildjean (871084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638964)

Last time I checked Windows sank a battleship.

Blasphemy! (5, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637868)

The REAL history of OS X...

And on the sixth day, Steve Jobs said, "Let there be OS X" and OS X was created, and it was good.

That's how it goes, right?

Re:Blasphemy! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638230)

I quoth from my copy of The Book of Apple:

And on the sixth day, Steve Jobs said, "Let there be White," and the porcelin white was created, and it was good.

Re:Blasphemy! (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639052)

What about the frickin' brushed alumimum?

Re:Blasphemy! (1)

paradoja (635498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639210)

Made from the rib of white... don't you read the Book?

Hello. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637910)

Dear Slashdot,

I like to masturbate in a group of 3 to 4 men.

Also, I have a small penis and a Macbook Air.

Yours faithfully,

Amorous Badger

Re:Hello. (2, Funny)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638890)

Amorous Badger

When did Ubuntu announce a new release?

90's OS (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637916)

In the 90's, all OS sucked. Networking and the internet made them look old. Mac OS still sucked less because of the way it interacted, and continued to interact, with standard compliant devices. The primary problem was that the motorola chips were becoming dated, which Apple fixed in the Mid 90's with the power PC.

It is interesting to note that at that time MS also released their first real GUI OS, Windows NT. By 1996 MS has a credible OS, which remain useful until 2000, when XP became a reasonable successor. Like Mac OS 9, however, NT was not that consumer friendly.

In a world where the web has reached a point where social media consumption and creation is what most people do, neither Mac OS X or Windows 7 will be the solution. As much as pundits want to say that people spend their days typing reports, creating powerpoints, that is not what people to. They post to video blogs and watch videos and text. We will see machines that run Windows 7 for business, and Mac OS X for software development and creative content creation, but the that is going to be an increasing niche market. People will be buying iOS and Android devices, because these are going to let them do stuff for $300. An external keyboard and google docs will let them do anything they need for school. Windows Mobile is not going to do it. We have seen the succor to Mac OS X, and it is iOS.

Re:90's OS (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638056)

Um, actually in the 90s there were some pretty good OSes. Yeah, ME sucked, but Windows NT was actually quite good, plus, the *Nix OSes were still as stable as ever, just not end-user friendly.

MacOS actually really, really sucked. NT had memory protection, MacOS didn't.

While NT wasn't exactly a "home" OS, it was used enough to make it pretty common if you knew to get it.

In the 90s, Mac was way and I mean way behind the curve.

Re:90's OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638294)

Late 90s I agree, but the early-mid 90s the Mac was the best in every metric. Windows 95 didn't ship until almost 1996 and it took a few revisions to get it right. Most people only remember Windows 95B and 98 the people that can say they actually used the first version of 95 is a pretty short list.

The price for WindowsNT was $300. I only got it because I was a university student and the school was giving them to anyone that asked. So it wasn't common at all.

Re:90's OS (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638600)

7.1.x through 7.6 just flat out sucked.

8.0 was better, 8.1 was pretty stable but still memory leaked like a sieve, especially if you were running file sharing on it, I had a G3 tower with AppleShare IP and 8.0-9.1 and it was a pain. It'd run for about 16-18 hours and then I'd have to reboot it because of the memory leak.

I got a copy of Rhapsody5.6 as soon as I could and slapped that on it, glory to much faster network IO and no more memory leaks.

I used Windows 95 when it first came out, like a week after launch, a buddy was dual booting that and OS 2 Warp, I stuck with my Mac but Windows was less prone to lock ups than 7.5.x was at the same time.

Re:90's OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638686)

I couldn't give the early 90's to the Macs, at all. If you bought a Mac in the 1990's for anything other than some specific application you were a fool being parted from your money. Besides costing 2x (or more, possibly 5x) than an equivalent speed, equivalent feature, equivalent quality PC, Macs were unstable as hell. If you had a program that needed Windows then the instability gap narrowed, but most software ran on rock-solid DOS. And sweet Jebus it took Apple forever to come around to the idea that you need more than a 9 inch black and white screen. But I'm no Mac hater as I am quite happy with my MacBook, though seriously Apple why do I have to use only the bottom right corner to resize my windows. That's a bug, not a feature or style.

As for Windows 95, lots of people used the first version. If you were on a college campus you used the sneaker network and a stack of floppies to grab betas in '94.

Re:90's OS (0, Troll)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639100)

IIRC, NT required 12-16+ MG of RAM at a time when machines shipped with 4MG and RAM prices were through the roof. NT was never a competitor with Mac Classic. NT was a business OS, Mac Classic was home. Apples & Watermelons.

Re:90's OS (3, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638108)

Then what would you say about an OS which:

  - was \textsc{unix}
  - supported the initial versions of http
  - was used to develop a graphical web browser and editor named worldwideweb.app[1]

NeXTstep, available in 1989

William

1 - _Weaving the Web_ by Sir Tim Berners-Lee --- http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/Weaving/Overview.html [w3.org]

Re:90's OS (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638708)

Well, the WWW didn't exist in 1989, but OS/2 Warp came with an internet suite (and the web browser was downloadable from the built-in update utility). This was in 1994. Windows still used the non-OO "Program Manager" and Bill Gates thought the internet was going to be run by MSN and AOL.

Re:90's OS (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639050)

You said:
> Well, the WWW didn't exist in 1989

I didn't say it did, but that NeXTstep was available in 1989, and hence in the 90s. From:

http://info.cern.ch/ [info.cern.ch]

``CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is where it all began in March 1989....When they settled on a name in May 1990, it was the WorldWideWeb.''

William

Re:90's OS (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639142)

Windows still used the non-OO "Program Manager"

Only if you didn't use it right. You can create Program Manager 'groups' and drag and drop *.doc and *.xls (and any other file extension configured to an app) icons into the groups and have your icons represent the objects (app data files) if you choose. Some of us figured that out.

It was 'slicker' of course to install HP's NewWave, but that just added another layer of croft. Apparently it was good enough to get Jobs wee-wee'd up enough to sue HP, though.

Re:90's OS (1, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638194)

was that the motorola chips were becoming dated, which Apple fixed in the Mid 90's with the power PC.

... the PowerPC chips were designed by Motorola, IBM fabbed them and eventually bought out the design when Motorola dumped it ... which also triggered Apple to jump to x86.

NT before 2000 was hardly a 'useful' OS. It was Windows, but with an extremely limited set of available software since most things that worked in 95 or 3.x that weren't extremely simple wouldn't work right in NT, if at all. It was buggy, crashed often, even without any third party software or drivers. Not that OS 8/9 were better, and even Win2k was an absolutely shitty consumer OS, far more useful as a server than previous versions of NT. Also, XP came out in 2001, not 2000.

I don't know where OSes are going, but iOS is a fad, this massive 'everything must be on the web' drive will go away, its not the first time its come and gone, even if you don't remember it.

Re:90's OS (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638740)

was that the motorola chips were becoming dated, which Apple fixed in the Mid 90's with the power PC.

... the PowerPC chips were designed by Motorola, IBM fabbed them and eventually bought out the design when Motorola dumped it ... which also triggered Apple to jump to x86.

Actually, PowerPC is based on IBM's POWER platform, and the AIM (Apple IBM Motorola) Alliance was formed to basically try to create a RISC alternative to Intel CISC processors.

Motorola (now Freescale) has not dumped PowerPC; it is still alive and well in the embedded market where Intel has no credible entries (PPC's main competition in that space are various flavors of ARM). The main issue was Freescale's (and IBM's, to an extent) inability to show a roadmap for a much lower power/higher-performance follow-on to the G5.

Re:90's OS (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639046)

Wasn't it only the G5, at the end of Apple's PPC run, that was based on the POWER platform? My understanding is that the G3/G4 weren't POWER-based.

Re:90's OS (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639172)

it is still alive and well in the embedded market where Intel has no credible entries

Well, other than the fact that even today the 8051 arch still owns a decent chunk of the market, and has a long powerful legacy.

Re:90's OS (1)

puto (533470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638892)

I very cleary remember maintaining about 25 NT servers and do not recall having many problems with them. Of course I bought HP servers certified to run NT, so I never had an issue with drivers. This was 1997-1999.

Re:90's OS (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638232)

I'm firmly in Apple's lap today, and have been using Macs at work and elsewhere for many years, but I couldn't stand the original Mac OS.

On a technological level, I also think it was far behind the competition in terms of memory protection, cooperative multitasking, etc.

Re:90's OS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638716)

I'm firmly in Apple's lap today, and have been using Macs at work and elsewhere for many years, but I couldn't stand the original Mac OS.

On a technological level, I also think it was far behind the competition in terms of memory protection, cooperative multitasking, etc.

And from a user level, that meant bunk. With the exception of some of the brain-dead System 7.5 patches, the classic Mac OS was indistinguishable from OS/2 or WinNT as far as multitasking and stability went.

A Windows admin, having read something in a tech magazine, once bragged to my father while demonstrating the fancy new multitasking and multithreading capabilities in Windows. Old Dad, not being technical in the least, promptly demonstrated the exact same thing on his Mac. The Windows admin went away with his proverbial tail between his legs.

Neither Dad nor the Windows admin could tell the difference.

Re:90's OS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638412)

MacOS wasn't an OS at all. (Note that MacOS is not Mac OS X. There's a space before "OS" and there's an "X". That makes it different.)

There was no kernel. Upon boot, the Mac ROM (or its software equivalent as found by the bootloader) would hand off control of the system to "Finder". Finder handled all system tasks, but was a user-accessible application. Extensions (a.k.a. "those puzzle piece things") were in-memory patches to the Finder application.

There was only a system API. Finder controlled the system through system libraries only. All processes done by "the OS" were actually performed by Finder. Finder had a GUI and the user could screw with it. This is all bad. Other applications used the same system API to handle their tasks as well. This lead to...

Applications were also the OS. Yes, once an application was active, it was in control of all memory management, so-called "system" functions, and even the multitasking scheduler. An application shared processor time when it wanted to share processor time. If you wrote your app without using WaitNextEvent(), all other apps on the machine would stop, though it made it more difficult to retrieve user input if you did that.

Basically, MacOS was the equivalent of DOS, but with a GUI. It was long past its prime and was an amazing set of hacks, but it was as unstable as all hell and needed replacement badly. In fact, replacement would've been on a proper schedule had the "Pink" project been finished... in 1989.

Re:90's OS (1)

Drizzt Do'Urden (226671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638860)

Sorry, but you're wrong!

There was a kernel, it was called nuKernel. The boot ROM was used to launch the machine and provide the hardware information. You could replace the Finder with any other app and make the computer boot and work, but the System file was necessary for anything to function.

For the WaitNextEvent thing, what you describe is cooperative multitasking in an OS without memory protection.

Oh.. and DOS was an OS too...

Re:90's OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33639004)

summary: MacOS used cooperative multitasking and didn't have protected memory. You don't know what an OS is.

Re:90's OS (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638910)

I'd disagree. The two best UIs from the early '90s were from NeXTStep and IRIX [1]. NeXTStep was very usable, although a bit funky to get used to with the command bar and such. However, it was one of the few workstation OSes that was also a very well thought out OS for daily desktop use. Hardware wise, the NeXT was expensive, but the cube was well made, and the printer did a decent 400 DPI, which was great for its time.

Come the mid 90s, Windows 95 was actually a decent improvement, but the NeXT dock is still one of the UI concepts that is still common even now.

[1]: Technically, the IRIX 4Dwm window manager. For eye candy, it couldn't be beaten at the time (and this was before CDE came out, and waaay before the KDE/GNOME initatives.)

There was no NeXTstep 4.2 (5, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637918)

It was OPENSTEP 4.2 --- which Apple actually sold for a time, along w/ providing free Y2K patches and free upgrades to NeXTstep 3.3 or OPENSTEP 4.2 to license holders of earlier versions.

Amusing rumour is that ``Yellow Box'' was so named because Bill Gates, when asked if he'd develop for NeXT stated, ``Develop for it? I'll piss on it.''

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/14/gates_says_jobs_saved_apple/ [theregister.co.uk]

As nice as Mac OS X is though, I'd still rather have NeXTstep:

  - Display PostScript
  - built-in PANTONE colour library
  - vertical, movable menu bar w/ tear off menus and pop-up menus
  - top-level Print, Hide, Quit and Services menu
  - TeX provided by default and supported by the nifty TeXview.app
  - inspector-provided sort options for Miller-column filebrowser view
  - re-sizeable Shelf which can store multiple file selections as a single icon
  - nifty apps which made use of Services and Display PostScript like beYAP.app, Altsys Virtuoso, poste.app &c.

William

Best. Gates Quote. Ever. (0, Troll)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638884)

From the article you linked:

When Jobs petulantly pouted that Windows stole the Mac's look and feel, Gates countered with "Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox's house before I did and stole the TV doesn't mean that I can't go in later and take the stereo."

That pretty much sums it up right there. I know its probably meaningless for most people in the world, but when those who claim to be "in the know" start taking sides between Apple and MS on "innovation," they really need to just check that right there.

An article about the history of the OS (3, Interesting)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#33637934)

could of used a screenshot or two of the historical operating systems. we all know what OS X looks like, but fewer of us have seen a living breathing Next cube

Re:An article about the history of the OS (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638418)

What the fuck does "could of" mean?

Re:An article about the history of the OS (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638422)

otoh screenshots are relatively easy to come by (hitting Wiki is often enough); then there's also one thing which gives pretty good idea [debian.net] , for the curious.

Re:An article about the history of the OS (0, Offtopic)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638762)

could of used a screenshot or two of the historical operating systems. we all know what OS X looks like, but fewer of us have seen a living breathing Next cube

You could have used some grammar lessons back in grade school, as evidenced by your first sentence.

Re:An article about the history of the OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33639120)

fewer of us have seen a living breathing Next cube

Oh I do. I remember when it was introduced, although I remember the NeXT Station (pizza box shape) better. The thing I remember most was the pinwheel icon [youtube.com] while you waited for that optical disk thing to load.

Didn't see it again until OS X.

origins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637952)

You mean Bell Labs and the PDP-7?

Mac OS X Internals (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33637968)

A good book on the guts and history of OS X. Amit Singh's Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach. (www.amazon.com/gp/product/0321278542).

NeXT computer emulator? (2, Interesting)

linebackn (131821) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638142)

The last time I checked, there still was no way to kick around the really old original 68k versions of NeXTSTEP other than buying a NeXT machine and its optical media off of eBay. I wish somebody would write NeXT emulator that emulated the original 68k machines. The x86 version is interesting and all, but the 68k version is where it all started.

I guess people only bother emulating platforms that have lots of games.

Re:NeXT computer emulator? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638920)

I guess people only bother emulating platforms that have lots of games.

Is there something about IBM mainframes [wikipedia.org] the greybeards aren't telling us? ;)

Jobs reality distortion field (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638284)

Actually, Apple used NeXT because they had to buy the worthless company for $400 million, bailing out Jobs' personal net worth, to get Jobs back.

Apple's in-house OS, MacOS 8, made it to first developer release before Jobs killed it. This is not what Apple eventually released as "MacOS 8"; that was a warmed-over System 7. The real MacOS 8 was a completely new kernel, with protected memory and a CPU dispatcher, both of which the original MacOS lacked. (Deep down, the original MacOS was like DOS - no memory management, no CPU dispatching, no I/O concurrency, and way too many low-level hacks into the OS at the app level. It had to fit in 64K, remember.) The claim was that using the Next OS would allow getting to market within a year. In fact, it took over three years before the desktop MacOS X shipped.

A real bottleneck was developing a "penalty box" in which old apps could run. The original "MacOS 8" didn't have that. Apple used to assume that they had enough control over their application developers to make them convert their apps to a new OS. But by 1997, the big application developers, especially Microsoft, weren't willing to jump through hoops for Apple. The PowerPC transition had driven away many developers; most of the engineering apps were never ported, because the PowerPC had a shorter FPU length than the M68000 or Intel x86 lines, there were major data compatibility problems. Jobs' real job at the time was to cut a deal with Microsoft to keep Office on the Mac.

Re:Jobs reality distortion field (3, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638424)

Actually, System 8 (Copland) had a ton of problems without including Jobs. The problem was, it was a disjointed effort where nothing was getting done. If anything blame Ellen Hancock for purchasing NeXT because when she was hired she basically said "screw this, it isn't ever going to get shipped" so they bailed out Jobs.

Copland wasn't going anywhere so Apple decided to cut their losses.

Re:Jobs reality distortion field (1)

Nebulo (29412) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638448)

Um. Not sure which 1996-2000 you lived through, but that history doesn't quite match the one I experienced.

Nebulo

Re:Jobs reality distortion field (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638534)

@Animats #apple had half a dozen new OS projects to replace the #system7, none of them went anywhere.

scores of Windows users (0, Troll)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638368)

The article states "the beta gave the general public their first taste of an operating system that would go on to win popular acclaim and attract scores of Windows users to the Macintosh." One score being 20, I guess that means maybe a couple hundred Windows users switched over?

early origins (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638390)

I imagine it started out something like this:

#include nextstep.h

int main(argc, char *argv[])
{ //TODO: Insert OS here
}

Re: early origins (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638796)

try.c:1:10: error: #include expects "FILENAME" or <FILENAME>
try.c:3: error: expected ')' before 'char'

Re: early origins (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639298)

Is // style commenting allowed in Objective-C?

I should install my copy of 1995-era Slackware I guess. It had a complete Objective-C development suite.

Re: early origins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33639038)

int argc

From TFA... (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 3 years ago | (#33638872)

In the Public Beta, Mail.app was present at a bristling young version 1.0. Surprisingly, it worked quite well.

Huh. I wonder what happened to it? Because "worked quite well" is not a phrase I would use to describe Mail.app in any version of OSX that I've used (that is, Tiger and above).

Re:From TFA... (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639162)

I particularly like its creative take on counting unread messages...

Why no mention... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33638986)

...of the fact that there was a not-particularly-private beta of OS X that ran on Intel hardware? Admittedly it ran on very little types of Intel hardware, but I managed to install it just the same. It was the release of 10.0 that was PPC-only; there /were/ x86 betas.

No mention of BSD (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639060)

A "look back at the origins of OS X", and the acronym BSD doesn't appear even once in the article. WTF?

Re:No mention of BSD (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 3 years ago | (#33639360)

That would be more of a history of NextSTEP, which is where the BSD stuff was originally pulled in. There's this misconception that modern OS X is more or less a clone of one or more BSDs, but that is not the case.

OSX and Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33639160)

No matter how many years it's been, whenever I hear "OSX" I think Pyramid Technologies. "IMPLing..."

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