The History of Mac Operating Systems

The History of Mac Operating Systems Free Essay


Mac OS is an improbable operating system, where technologies, ideologies, and paradigms have successfully combined. However, in the past they were usually incompatible with each other. This operating system represents the product of numerous trials and errors of NeXT and Apple and their community of users and developers. Mac OS is the best example of how powerful operating system may become the result of indirect and direct attempts of research and academic communities, corporations, the movement for free software and open source, and even the common people. Apple has existed since 1976. The history of Apple as a company is truly amazing and the same can be said about its technical features, in particular, the history of operating systems Apple.

Apple DOS 3.1

In 1977, Apple developers became aware of the fact that the transfer to disk drives was an important aim for the computers. Steve Wozniak designed a remarkable design of the disc drive Disk II. There was also a necessity in the disk operating system (DOS). Apple DOS is the operating system for microcomputers of Apple II series. Apple DOS had three major versions – DOS 3.1, DOS 3.2, and DOS 3.3. The first version of Apple DOS was released in July 1978. This operating system had no relation to the popular MS-DOS from Microsoft. At a time when the disk drive was a luxury, as well as operating systems supporting this type of input-output, many operating systems contained abbreviated DOS in their names. The first version had nothing in common with 1.0. Its developer added the counter of changes x.y each time it accumulated the source code. It started with x = 0, y = 1, and each time, where y reached 9, x was incremented by 1 (O’Grady, 2009).

By default, this operating system was designed to work only with the Disk II – with 5-inch unilateral floppies with the capacity of 140 KB. A feature of the operating system was the support of file names containing up to 30 characters of any kind. Apple DOS commands were implemented as an extension of the instruction set language interpreter BASIC sewn into the computer’s memory. Apple DOS 3.1 did not have its command processor or another interface. Despite all drawbacks, the operating system DOS 3.1 was in the basis of the further development of the emergence of the first Macintosh (O’Grady, 2009).

Apple real start “System File”

In the early 80’s, Apple developed the project, Annie. Later it was renamed in Macintosh. On 400 KB floppy disk, there was a single-process single-user operating system. Its name was Mac System Software. Macintosh ROM had a mix of a low-level code to initialize a high-level library of Toolbox, the drivers, and iron. It freed the programmer from the need to paint the interface. All programs were prepared in the same style. Toolbox supported displaying and processing dialogs, simple calculations, fonts, menus, icons, text input and editing, and windows. QuickDraw component contained primitives for drawing dialogs, scroll bars, shapes, windows, and drop-down menus. Default application that ran at startup was called Finder. It was the interface for working with files and running programs. The system was a single-process. MFS file system was non-hierarchical. All files were stored in a heap (O’Grady, 2009).

Apple developers defined the basis for the further development of all operating systems. Much of what they devised in 1984 is now the standard for all software developers. During the entire period of perfection of Macintosh computers, their operating system also developed. After the release of the first version of the operating system, there were eight of its modifications. Each operating system introduced some changes and improvements in the work. There were numerous improvements in every operating system – the use of Multi Finder allowing operating with multiple applications simultaneously, the emergence of a new file system HFS +, the improvement of multimedia functions and the ability to work in the Internet. The program Sherlock appeared designed to search for files on local disks and the Internet.

The Next Generation of OS, Mac OS

In 1997, Apple produced a new type of operating system. Mac OS was the most intense operating system. It was the key version of the Mac OS. It was distinguished by a completely new interface, the increasing number of the accelerated calls of commands, the presence of the integrated functions for the access to the Internet, and the improved version of the Finder. A new system comprised purely cosmetic and functional improvements. They were all aimed at giving Macintosh a unique individuality. In the new version, users had several ways to give their Macintosh computers a unique look. It has updated icons of the so-called “platinum” interface, which were taken from a failed project on the development of a next-generation platform Copeland. It also introduced a new file system HFS +, as well as an improved system of installers. The system received a multi-threaded application Finder, which allows running multiple file operations supported by the launch of the context menu. It also characterized by the important improvement in the field of power management, USB, and FireWire (Spivey, 2013).

The package of the operating system also included browsers Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. In addition, an integral part of the operating system was proper of Java for Apple received the name Macintosh Runtime for Java (MRJ). It is worth noting that version 8.5 was designed to be used only on machines equipped with processor PowerPC. In 8.6, the core was updated. It got multitasking and multiprocessing. With this version of operating system, Macintosh gained great popularity. Mac OS brought the company huge commercial success. However, time passed and Apple took the decision about global changes.

The Last Version of Apple OS, MAC OS X

In March 2000, the world saw a radically new, tenth version of Mac OS X, which was very far from Mac OS 9. It did not support the software intended for classic Apple. For its creation, Apple developers rewrote completely the initial program code. As a basis, they took the operating system NeXTSTEP (Spivey, 2013). The developer of this operating system was one of those who once founded Apple. However, on the coincidence of circumstances, he left the company. Developments of the firm NEXT together with its leader had been bought by Apple. In such a way, its founder Steve Jobs again leaded Apple.

Mac OS X used BSD standard services, the core Mach, and all the basic peculiarities of the UNIX operating system. It gave the opportunity to increase its functionality, security, and stability. Prior multitasking, which is used in Mac OS X, allows running multiple processes simultaneously. Moreover, they do not disturb each other.

Since the appearing of the first version, the company has released 11 versions of operating systems. “Mac OS X has been the operating system on Apple computers since 2001, and it has gone through many transformations since that time” (Spivey, 2013, p. 17). Developers assigned code words to new versions – the types of strong wild animals. Thus, the version 10.0 was called – Cheetah, 10.1 – Puma, 10.2 – Jaguar, 10.3 – Panther, 10.4 – Tiger, 10.5 – Leopard 10.6 – Snow Leopard, 10.7 – The Lion, 10.8 – Mountain Lion. The version Cheetah included two applications Apple included in a line of Digital Lifestyle. It is iMovie and iTunes. Tiger and Leopard can be called the major updates. In the first case, the update contained about 200 new features, the second – about 300 (Spivey, 2013).

Inside MAC OS X

The operating system UNIX is the progenitor of many modern operating systems such as Linux, Android, and Mac OS X. The first UNIX system was developed in 1969. Since that time, a number of different UNIX-systems were created. The ideas incorporated in a basis of UNIX had an enormous influence on the development of computer operating systems. Currently, UNIX-systems are recognized as one of the most historically important operating systems. This operating system promotes the idea of a hierarchical file system with arbitrary nesting depth.

When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he founded NeXT. The company was engaged in the development of computers and software. In the company NeXT, there was a programmer Avadis Tevanian. Previously, he was engaged in the development of the Mach microkernel for a UNIX-compatible operating system developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Mach kernel had to replace the core BSD UNIX. Avadis Tevanian was a leader of the team developing a new UNIX-compatible operating system called NeXTSTEP. It was based on Mach. From a programming perspective, NeXTSTEP, unlike many other operating systems, was object-oriented. The programming language Objective-C played a huge role in it. Nowadays, it is widely used in Mac OS X. In 1996, Apple offered to buy the company NeXT in order to use NeXTSTEP instead of Mac OS. “Apple purchased NeXT Software for approximately $400 million” (Love, Merlino, Zimmerman, Reed & Weinstein, 2005, p. 371). The policy of NeXTSTEP adaptation for computers Apple continued. In a few years, this operating system was ported to Intel and PowerPC. The server version of Mac OS X was released in 1999. In 2000, there was the operating system for the end users – Mac OS X (10.0) (Love, Merlino, Zimmerman, Reed & Weinstein, 2005).

Important People in Apple Industry

It is impossible to imagine the success of Apple without Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. “Two guys named Steve, working in a garage in 1976, created a prototype computer designed to be different in a way no one thought possible” (O’Grady, 2009, p. 1). Steve Jobs is a legend of Apple. He made a recognizable brand. At the same time, the idol of millions was struggling with the disease, which to some extent became the engine of the company. In 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from the company. However, in 1997, he returned to save Apple from bankruptcy. During his dismissal, Steve Jobs founded the company NeXT, which was later bought by Apple. Steve Jobs is a remarkable person who has made a great contribution to the elaboration of five industries – personal computers with the Apple II and Macintosh, animation with Pixar, phones iPhone, and music with iTunes and iPod.

Stephen Gary Wozniak is a great inventor and programmer. He is actually one of the developers of the first personal computer. His ideas can be considered as a valuable contribution to the development of computer systems. Steve Wozniak created personal computers Apple I and Apple II, which gained extraordinary popularity among users of the time.


Since 1976, Apple presents new products on the market. Their products are considered the best in the world. The history of the company is amazing. Its technical components improve every year. The history of the operating systems starts in 1978 when the first version– DOS 3.1 was released. Since that time, new operating systems appeared. Nowadays, Mac OS X is considered the best in the market. Apple achieved great success only due to its founders – Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

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