Mac OS X Turns 10

September 13th, 2010 by Benj Edwards

Mac OS X Public Beta CD

10 years ago today, Apple released the Mac OS X Public Beta. It was the general public’s first chance to experience the new OS and the commercial debut of the software (a previous release, confusingly named “OS X Server,” was based on a pre-OS X prototype called Rhapsody).

The Public Beta sold for $29.95, and Apple offered that amount off the purchase of OS X 10.0 for those who bought the Beta.

I’ve always been a fan of OS X, and this anniversary got me wondering how development on this very innovative OS started. After some digging, I wrote a brief history on the origins of OS X for Macworld. I was fortunate to have the help of Avie Tevanian, former VP of Software Engineering at Apple (1997-2006), as a reference to help me get some points straight.

While I was at it, I also wrote a shorter piece about some of the differences between the Public Beta and Snow Leopard (the most recent version of OS X).

What are your thoughts on OS X? Do you use it? Did you use it? Let us know in the comments.



8 Responses to “Mac OS X Turns 10”

  1. BDD Says:

    Funny… I just got ahold of, and installed, OS X Beta last night, since I never got a chance to play with it when it came out. Now there’s an article up about it.

    I’ve used and loved OS X since 2002, when I got my first Mac that could run it; a Wallstreet Powerbook. WIth Virtual PC, I was able to get the best of both worlds on one computer. That continues today with my MB Pro, Parallels, and my separate Windows XP install (via Bootcamp).

    For a paradoxical moment, here’s a snapshot I took of Internet Explorer Beta visiting the Apple site (specifically, the OS X page)- http://atari.vg-network.com/osxbeta.png

  2. jjjiii Says:

    I still can’t believe that they CHARGED for a BETA.

  3. Don Says:

    Actually, I think it was smart to charge for the beta. Free-for-all beta tests usually don’t end with great results, everyone just treats it as a free program without giving the developers any feedback.

    When they charged for it, the people willing to pony up the $30 were a more serious lot. Apple got a lot more people willing to help that way.

    Oh, and keep in mind that, at the time, Apple could use every dollar they could get their hands on!

  4. jdiwnab Says:

    I think that switching to OS X was one of the best things to happen for Apple. They where able to shed decades of cruf (mostly), and provide a clean line in the sand. They did provide some level of backwards compatibility in what is essentially a VM, plus the intermediate API. But it allowed them to create a new code base, and re-think old decisions, without worrying about breaking old code.

    I think that if Microsoft where to try and pull the same thing, they would come out ahead in the long run. Some of their new .NET APIs are wrappers on wrappers on wrappers of old Win16 APIs. They *have* to keep some bugs in place to allow things to work.

    On the other hand, the OS X switch is somewhat painful in that, I have lots of old games that are rather hard to play now. Some have Windows versions that I would load up there.

    Note to self: finally fix that old Mac for vintage game use…

  5. jlanagan Says:

    I switched from Slackware Linux to a G4 OS X 10.2 machine. I kept hearing about how all the *NIX guys loved OS X because it had unix under the hood, and we could still run all of our favorite unix apps on the OS. After purchasing my first Mac, I did run my favorite unix apps on the OS, but I noticed as time went on, I found Mac apps to replace my unix apps… Fast forward to today. About the only *nix stuff I’m using still are my basic terminal needs. MC, ncftp, ssh… I’d die without them. from 10.2 to 10.6 I’ve been loving OS X the whole time, not looking to move on to anything else anytime soon. I’m even building my first hackintosh!

  6. Daniel Says:

    That was a great article about the history of OS X. Apple has managed two hardware transitions (Motorola 68000 to PowerPC to Intel) and an OS transition (Classic Mac OS to OS X) extremely well, and they are leveraging OS X amazingly well, and I love it!

    I am a Mac fan because of its NeXT heritage. I still have a prototype NeXT Cube, in working order even. 🙂 I remember when NeXT introduced color; Steve Jobs was very concerned about ugly use of color (think Windows 1.x and 2.x), so color was very understated in NeXTSTEP. Today, the GUI in Snow Leopard really does throw back to the NeXT days – it is very understated now, with plenty of shades of gray and relatively conservative use of color, unlike the flashy interface that was Aqua.

  7. PS3D Says:

    Funny we’re talking about the early OS X. If anyone is running OS X Beta, 10.1, or 10.2, could they send the OSX-only “Key Caps” to me, earthboundmanREMOVETHIS@gmail.com?

    Obviously, remove the “REMOVETHIS” before sending. Thanks!

  8. ricomac Says:

    I just done the installation process of this Public Beta on my Powerbook G3 Wallstreet G2, and I found it fonctionnal, but evidently, not complete as well. It look like the basic layout of OS X but with some mixture of Mac OS 9.2.2 (OS that I use presently to write my post) and NextStep OS. the Finder is basic and have visual options that modern Finder don’t have like the Folder Bookmark option!

    The Key Caps option is yes cool to have. I’ll drop it on the OS 9.2.2 partition to try it on later version of OS X.

    @PS3D: I’ll send it to you 🙂

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