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Versions of Mac OS X

May 1st, 2009
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The MacOS X is the operating system used in all modern Macs. It was developed by Apple to respond to the growing gap between the capabilities of modern operating systems and the existing Mac OS 9. Previous versions of Mac OS were all based on the code developed in the 80s, when the Macintosh platform was still based on early microchips.

Mac OS X came as an evolution of a previous operating system, the NextStep. NextStep was created by a company founded by Steve Jobs, and its goal was to bring the power of UNIX systems to the desktop. Although the company succeeded in creating a new operating system, it failed commercially and was later sold to Apple.

Merging UNIX and Mac OS

After the return of Steve Jobs to the board of Apple, the Operating System used on the Next machines was modified to run the Macintosh software. It was really a difficult process where two separate traditions of software making, namely UNIX and Mac OS, had to converge in order to create something bigger.

The result of the merge between NextStep and MacOS was an operating system that had a proven design and a user friendly user interface. The Mac OS X was initially released as an optional operating system, while Mac OS 9 was still the official version.

Later on, Mac OS X was sold as the sole operating system, although Mac OS 9 was maintained for compatibility reasons. Even as late as 2005 I had the chance to run quite a few programs using the Mac OS 9 emulator in a PowerPC box.

The versions of Mac OS X are named after felines. The names of big cats used up to now are: Cheetah, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, and Leopard. All thes versions introduced new features and enhancements, but the basic operating system, based on UNIX, has remained the same with only improvements and additions.

Conclusion

Mac OS X is the result of several iterations of software development. It follows the traditions of UNIX (through the NextStep operating system) and Mac OS, the original system used by the Macs. Mac OS X is rapidly evolving and new releases are frequently released by Apple. Nowadays, Mac OS X is used not only in desktops, but is also the operating system used in portable devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch.

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