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   » » Wiki: Macintosh Operating Systems
Tag Wiki 'Macintosh Operating Systems'.

The family of Macintosh operating systems developed by Apple Inc. includes the graphical user interface-based it has designed for use with its series of personal computers since 1984, as well as the related it once created for compatible third-party systems.

In 1984, Apple debuted the operating system that is now known as the "Classic" Mac OS with its release of the original Macintosh System Software. The system, rebranded "Mac OS" in 1996, was preinstalled on every Macintosh until 2002 and offered on for a short time in the 1990s. Noted for its ease of use, it was also criticized for its lack of modern technologies compared to its competitors.

The current Mac operating system is , originally named "Mac OS X" until 2012 and then "OS X" until 2016. Developed between 1997 and 2001 after Apple's purchase of , Mac OS X brought an entirely new architecture based on , a system, that eliminated many of the technical challenges that the classic Mac OS faced. The current macOS is preinstalled with every Mac and is updated annually. It is the basis of Apple's current system software for its other devices, , , and .

Prior to the introduction of Mac OS X, Apple experimented with several other concepts, releasing different products designed to bring the Macintosh interface or applications to systems or vice versa, A/UX, MAE, and . Apple's effort to expand upon and develop a replacement for its classic Mac OS in the 1990s led to a few cancelled projects, Star Trek, , and Copland.

Although they have different architectures, the Macintosh operating systems share a common set of GUI principles, including a across the top of the screen; the Finder shell, featuring a that represents and applications using icons and relates concepts like directories and to real-world objects like and a trash can; and overlapping windows for multitasking.

Classic Mac OS
The "classic" Mac OS is the original Macintosh operating system that was introduced in 1984 alongside the first Macintosh and remained in primary use on Macs through 2001.

Apple released the original Macintosh on January 24, 1984; its early system software was partially based on the and the computer, which former Apple CEO previewed. It was originally named "System Software", or simply "System"; Apple rebranded it as "Mac OS" in 1996 due in part to its program that ended a year later.

Mac OS is characterized by its monolithic system. It was noted as easy to use and featured cooperative multitasking for most of its history, but it was criticized for its limited memory management, lack of and , and susceptibility to conflicts among extensions.

Nine major versions of the classic Mac OS were released. The name "Classic" that now signifies the system as a whole is a reference to a compatibility layer that helped ease the transition to .
  • Macintosh System Software – "System 1", released in 1984
  • System Software 2, 3, and 4 – released between 1985 and 1987
  • System Software 5 – released in 1987
  • System Software 6 – released in 1988
  • System 7 / Mac OS 7.6 – released in 1991
  • Mac OS 8 – released in 1997
  • Mac OS 9 – final major version, released in 1999

Mac OS X / OS X / macOS
(originally named "Mac OS X" until 2012 and then "OS X" until 2016) is the current Mac operating system that officially succeeded the classic Mac OS in 2001.

Although the system was originally marketed as simply "version 10" of Mac OS, it has a history that's largely independent of the classic Mac OS. It is a -based operating system built on and other technology developed at from the late 1980s until early 1997, when Apple purchased the company and its CEO returned to Apple. Precursors to the original release of Mac OS X include , Apple's Rhapsody project, and the Mac OS X Public Beta.

macOS makes use of the codebase and the kernel, and its core set of components is based upon Apple's Darwin operating system.


The first version of the system was released on March 24, 2001, supporting the Aqua user interface. Since then, several more versions adding newer features and technologies have been released. Since 2011, new releases have been offered on an annual basis.

  • Mac OS X 10.0 – code name "Cheetah", released in 2001
  • Mac OS X 10.1 – code name "Puma", released in 2001
  • Mac OS X 10.2 – also marketed as "Jaguar", released in 2002
  • Mac OS X Panther – version 10.3, released in 2003
  • Mac OS X Tiger – version 10.4, released in 2005
  • Mac OS X Leopard – version 10.5, released in 2007
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard – version 10.6, released in 2009
  • Mac OS X Lion – version 10.7, released in 2011
  • OS X Mountain Lion – version 10.8, released in 2012
  • OS X Mavericks – version 10.9, released in 2013
  • OS X Yosemite – version 10.10, released in 2014
  • OS X El Capitan – version 10.11, released in 2015
  • – version 10.12, released in 2016
  • macOS High Sierra – version 10.13, released in 2017
  • – version 10.14, to be released in 2018

An early version of the system was released in 1999 as a technology preview. It was followed by several more official server-based releases. Server functionality has instead been offered as an add-on for the desktop system since 2011.

  • Mac OS X Server 1.0 – code name "Hera", released in 1999
  • – several releases since 2001

Other projects


The Apple Real-time Operating System Environment (A/ROSE) was a small embedded operating system which ran on the Macintosh Coprocessor Platform, an for the Macintosh. The idea was to offer a single "overdesigned" hardware platform on which third-party vendors could build practically any product, reducing the otherwise heavy workload of developing a -based . The first version of the system was ready for use in February 1988. Inside the Macintosh Coprocessor Platform and A/ROSE

In 1988, Apple released its first -based OS, A/UX, which was a Unix with the Mac OS look and feel. It was not very competitive for its time, due in part to the crowded Unix market and Macintosh hardware lacking high-end design features present on -class computers. A/UX had most of its success in sales to the U.S. government, where compliance was a requirement that Mac OS could not meet.

The Macintosh Application Environment (MAE) was a software package introduced by Apple in 1994 that allowed users of certain -based computer workstations to run Apple Macintosh application software. MAE used the X Window System to emulate a -style graphical user interface. The last version, MAE 3.0, was compatible with System 7.5.3. MAE was available for and systems. It was discontinued on May 14, 1998.

Announced at the 1996 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), is an operating system that was started by the OSF Research Institute and Apple in February 1996 to port to the platform, and thus Macintosh computers. In the summer of 1998, the community-led MkLinux Developers Association took over development of the operating system. MkLinux is short for "Microkernel Linux," which refers to the project's adaptation of the to run as a server hosted atop the . MkLinux is based on version 3.0 of Mach.


Star Trek
Star Trek (as in "to boldly go where no Mac has gone before") was a relatively unknown secret prototype beginning in 1992, whose goal was to create a version of the classic Mac OS that would run on -compatible x86 personal computers. In partnership with Apple and with support from Intel, the project was instigated by , which was looking to integrate its with the Mac OS GUI as a mutual response to the monopoly of 's Windows 3.0 and MS-DOS. A team consisting of four from Apple and four from Novell was able to get the and some basic applications such as , running smoothly on the x86 architecture. The project was canceled a year later in early 1993, but some of the code was reused later when porting the Mac OS to .
(1999). 9781886411289, No Starch Press. .

(a of "talent" and "intelligent") was the name of an object-oriented operating system and the company dedicated to producing it. Started as a project within Apple to provide a replacement for the classic Mac OS, it was later spun off into a joint venture with as part of the , with the purpose of building a competing platform to and . The development process never worked, and Taligent is often cited as an example of a project death march. Apple pulled out of the project in 1995 before the code had been delivered." Apple surrenders the Pink (to Microsoft)", The Register, 3 October 2008

Copland was a project at Apple to create an updated version of the classic Mac OS. It was to have introduced protected memory, preemptive multitasking and a number of new underlying operating system features, yet still be compatible with existing Mac software. As originally planned, a follow-up release known as "Gershwin" would add multithreading and other advanced features. New features were added more rapidly than they could be completed, and the completion date slipped into the future with no sign of a release. In 1996, Apple decided to cancel the project outright and find a suitable third-party system to replace it. Copland development ended in August 1996, and in December 1996, Apple announced that it was buying for its operating system.


Related systems
Before the arrival of the Macintosh in 1984, Apple's history of operating systems began with its Apple II series computers in 1977, which ran , , and later GS/OS; the in 1980, which ran ; and the in 1983, which ran and later , a Macintosh . Apple also developed the for its personal digital assistant from 1993 to 1997.

In recent years, Apple has also launched several new operating systems based on the core of , including in 2007 for its , , and ; in 2015 for the ; and in 2015 for the .

See also
  • Comparison of operating systems
  • History of the graphical user interface
  • List of Macintosh software

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