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Looking Back At OS X's Origins 312

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-fail-at-history dept.
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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Looking Back At OS X's Origins

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  • 90's OS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:55PM (#33637916) Homepage Journal
    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:Oops. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NJRoadfan (1254248) on Monday September 20, 2010 @01:00PM (#33637992)
    Kinda sad the Apple IIgs had a Mac style GUI in color before the Mac did.
  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday September 20, 2010 @01:06PM (#33638098) Homepage

    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.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday September 20, 2010 @01:19PM (#33638316) Journal

    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.

  • by bonch (38532) on Monday September 20, 2010 @02:26PM (#33639432)

    Colors in OS X are often muted because of people doing visual work. Many (if not all) of Apple's Pro apps use grayscale window controls and highlights regardless of what the rest of the system is configured to use.

  • by hessian (467078) on Monday September 20, 2010 @02:38PM (#33639608) Homepage Journal

    I am an unabashed Jean-Louis Gassee fan, having used Macs back in the 1980s and at the time wondered why they didn't allow me to use expansion cards like an Apple //, or even expand the memory (early 128K/512K Macs made that rather difficult!).

    When BeOS came out, I was fairly thrilled at the idea, but had no idea how to get my hands on a Be box. A few years later, I got to see BeOS on an Intel box.

    I was at first somewhat nonplussed, because this was a 160mhz 486dx2 style nightmare machine... but the BeOS made the thing haul ass. I have no other way to describe it; windows were snappy, file operations slow, but everything else not only ran quickly but synchronized well between different tasks.

    History may well have delivered us the wrong "hero," and screwed one of the real heroes, because BeOS was amazing -- and light years ahead of Windows NT, and alternate universes ahead of MacOS 7, which you could freeze by holding down the mouse button.

  • Re:90's OS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Monday September 20, 2010 @02:40PM (#33639660) Homepage
    I ran NT4 as my primary OS for about 8 months, and that wasn't my experience at all. Maybe rubbish shareware and 3D games wouldn't work, but all of the desktop productivity type software I had worked, all of the esoteric engineering apps for my uni course worked well. The main issue was device drivers for cheaper hardware, but then it was those that made Win 9x so unstable.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday September 20, 2010 @03:03PM (#33640034) Homepage Journal
    My teachers taught me that black and white are not colors, but conditions. White is the presence of all colors in the spectrum, and black is the absence of all the colors. Who knows what teachers are teaching today - I only know that my science teachers insisted that I learn that bit of trivia.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday September 20, 2010 @04:02PM (#33640952) Journal

    >>>I don't think I would go so far as call the Mac inferior.

    I would. And did. The only reason I switched to a Mac was because the better machines (Atari and Amiga) disappeared off the market. The Commodore Amiga could do all the desktop publishing a Mac could do PLUS produce movies (Aladdin) and TV shows (B5, seaquest, space A&B, etc) besides.
    .

    >>>I think Apple took IBM more seriously than the assorted home computers and as long as the average office had B/W printing, Jobs felt justified in his thinking.

    Yeah as it turned-out the PC was the main competitor for all these companies, and it was pretty dull.

  • Re:Oops. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Creepy (93888) on Monday September 20, 2010 @04:37PM (#33641452) Journal

    Part of the reason for no color was Apple was still targeting business and wanted to be seen as a business machine, not a toy like the Apple ][ line. IMO, Apple made a HUGE mistake of going after the business market exclusively for a while (trying to go head-to-head with IBM) and pretty much pissing on their consumer market. I know several people that (claim) they will never buy another Apple product because of how Apple handled the GS.

  • Re:Finder (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2010 @08:38PM (#33644016)

    You forget another more frequently used name for "Return" is "Enter".

  • Re:Finder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Draek (916851) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @12:54AM (#33645674)

    Why would anyone assume that return means open?

    Because it had meant "take whatever I wrote, execute it and show me the results" for decades before Macs, and "take whatever I selected, and try to show it to me" is the closest analogue in the graphical world.

    Under the Mac OS Finder return means "toggle editing the name", another defined action which at least makes a little sense since return ends the editing just like return on a typewriter ends the current line.

    Oh no, it really doesn't. The logical jump from "end current line" to "edit selected item's name" is far too large to call it "[making] a little sense", larger still than the aforementioned "execute" -> "open" one which also has the benefit of being an analogy to another kind of computer rather than a whole different (and very much dead and forgotten) class of machines.

    Sorry, but as much as it may pain some of the Apple crowd around here, Microsoft *did* actually go with the saner choice here.

  • by takev (214836) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @01:43AM (#33645898)
    Their first Beta had lots of colors, their windows has a light blue pin stripe. Then the graphic artists told Apple that all their graphics became off-color, because their eyes compensated against the slight blue tint (our eyes' automatic white balance).

    Ever since then each version removed more color from the themes and from their applications. Personally I think they went overboard with iTunes, but it may also be that they want everyone to adopt the gray icons in a list for other applications as well. Don't forget that Apple applications are often used by programmers as example applications on how to visually design their own. For programmers making application that are used in any way during (not just for) Image and Video editing it is wise to reduce the amount of colors in their application. Just like most applications shouldn't make any kind of sound when people want to do sound editing.

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