back to article Mac OS X at 20: A rocky start, but it got the fundamentals right for a macOS future

Two decades ago this week, the first version of Mac OS X hit shelves. We're not talking figuratively. The software was sold direct to consumers on disk, with a suggested retail price of $129 (roughly $190 today, adjusted for inflation). Back in 2001, Mac OS X 10.00 Cheetah was a rough-around-the-edges break from the ageing …

  1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    UNIX

    It's always the right answer.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: UNIX

      Damn right. Have an up-vote

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: UNIX

      Seeing as BeOS was also an option, that's not always the case.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: UNIX

      It's always the old answer. It's now a heavy stone on any real innovation. At least, unlike Linux, macOS have a nice UI and its own driver system for peripherals....

      1. joejack

        Re: UNIX

        What an uninformed comment. Without Unix underpinnings, legions of software developers would not have flocked to OSX. Imagine Cygwin for Mac. No thanks. Microsoft finally realized this, hence the whole "Windows Subsystem for Linux" initiative (which is actually a Linux subsystem for Windows).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UNIX

      Err maybe, but is MacOS a good example of the Unix run everywhere ethos? Being locked into one manufacturer's expensive hardware doesn't sound very 'Unixy' to me : I mean jeez, I'm not even legally able to run MacOS as a virtual machine on my Linux workstation, unless that machine happens to be from the fruity company. That's my main beef with Apple, they lock you in and extract big margins from their customers - that's why they have so much money. But it doesn't matter, because those customers seem to love Apple no matter what. Granted they're good at what they do but with Apple there's always that faint (and sometimes not so faint) whiff of 'my way or the highway!'. Personally, I don't like lock in for that reason.

      But just ignore this comment and downvote it to hell because I'm obviously just an Apple hating nut job whose opinion (according to one commentator) shouldn't even be allowed to appear! :)

      1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: UNIX

        The people who buy Apple are OK with “locking them in”. They do not want to run MacOS on anything else, they just want it to run reliably on Apple machine.

        Windows can run everywhere but you pay the price with all those updates that occasionally kill the machine.

        And Linux is too much of an effort.

  2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Its still a bit marmitey though

    Finder in particular feels like it needs to be taken around to the back of the barn and shot. Examples:

    Fundamental inability to use breadcrumds to navigate up and down a deep folder structure.

    Search needs a major overhaul.

    Launch Pad needs to die

    1. David Lawton

      Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

      Finder - View - Show Path Bar, and you get breadcrumbs at the bottom and you can double click any folder in the breadcrumb to jump to it.

      1. Nick

        Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

        Who would downvote this helpful and polite post?

        There should be an option to discount any future forum votes from these people as I don't care about anything that they say or do from here on in.

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

          "Who would downvote this helpful and polite post?"

          There are any number of rabid anti-Apple nutjobs around here. They'll downvote anything that isn't outright critical of fruity companies or products.

        2. Jason Hindle Silver badge

          Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

          “ Who would downvote this helpful and polite post?”

          I certainly upvoted it. However... I find a common refrain among fellow Mac Heads is that there’s a lot of power hiding behind the simplicity. Perhaps at times too well hidden? Anyway, one of the New Year resolutions is to become an actual Mac power user, so the tip is very welcome.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

            "...a lot of power hiding behind the simplicity. Perhaps at times too well hidden?"

            It's the OS Arms Race. Companies have to add more functionality, features etc or risk being left behind by the competition - unfortunately this feature-creep quickly grows beyond what the original designers intended, and you end up with - as you say - a lot of stuff hidden away. I've been on Macs for 10 years and have no intention of going back to Windows, but I would agree it's getting increasingly complicated to use and find what I need. I'm ok with it because once you're on Mac it's a gradual process and you can learn as you go along, but when you're starting on your first Mac it can be daunting.

      2. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

        You can also Command-click on any title bar (whether an opened document, folder name in Finder or even a URL in Safari) and, as long as it’s been built with Apple’s APIs (and most have) then you’ll get a drop down menu showing the path. You can click on any item from the menu to be taken to that location.

        MacOS has done this for as long as I can remember, back to System 6 days I think, and it’s one of the most useful tricks there is. I miss it on every other OS.

        1. TheFifth

          Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

          I use this all the time (although I use a right-click - same thing). I also have the path bar breadcrumbs on too.

          Another really useful thing is that the icon in the title bar is actually a proxy for the document (you have to hover over the title on Big Sur for it to show - why Apple?!!). So you can drag that icon to a different folder and it behaves exactly as if you were dragging the actual file. I find it incredibly useful if I have a file open in Preview (or any other app that uses the Apple APIs) and I want to copy or move it into a different folder. I don't have to navigate to the source folder in Finder, I can just drag the icon from the title bar of the Preview window and it's the same as dragging the file. A well thought out feature that I'm not sure many people know about.

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

            Another good one is that you can drag a file into the File->Open dialogue box (for example if you already have a folder with the file open in Finder) and the file will then become selected in the Open dialog. But why would you want to when you can just double-click? Well, sometimes you can't just double click - the file doesn't belong to the application that you want to open it in (as is always the case for a Hex Editor)

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

        Thanks for the tip, although I don't think I need it. I just tend to have lots of Finder windows open so that I don't even have to think about the path in Finder, unless searching.

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

        Finder

        There's a very nice addon I use called TotalFinder..

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Its still a bit marmitey though

      Yes, yes it does, I know an Apple Dev and it really is thought of as "the one who shouldn't be mentioned"... Throwing iPhone backup onto the finder was just the icing on the cake. Perhaps Finder will get the iTunes treatment and become separate better apps? Oh, wait Music sucks as bad as iTunes...

  3. 45RPM Silver badge

    I replaced my 486 PC, with Windows 3.1, with a superficially less powerful Mac SE/30 only to be astonished with the way that the Mac could spank the PC on day to day performance (not gaming though, plus ca change) thanks to the tight integration of OS and hardware.

    The OS was a bit crashy, but wasn’t everything in those days? Well, no. My university lecturer put me right - A/UX was just the ticket. It looked like Mac OS, ran Mac OS software - but with Unix underneath it was preemptively multitasking and memory protected. Sure, if a Mac OS app crashed then it could take out the other Mac OS apps - but your Unix stuff would stay running. Perfect. And quite a lot like MacOS today conceptually.

    Once setup like that, I was good and the charms of Windows 9x and A/UXless PowerPC passed me by. I did consider jumping to Linux full time as my Quadra (which replaced the SE/30 as A/UX workhorse - though I still have both) got long in the tooth and Apple had apparently abandoned any idea of having a serious OS. Then Next happened, I kept using A/UX well after sell-by - and then updated to MacOS X on a PowerMac G3.

    Steve Jobs does deserve credit for bringing the talented engineers together who made OS X happen. But it’s the engineers themselves who are deserving of the lions share of the glory.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      486 PC, with Windows 3.1

      Even NT 3.51 on a suitable 386 made Win 3.1 look stupid on a 486. Also did you have 32 bit disk drivers, a similar amount of RAM and a decent graphics card?

      Also some 486 computers were slow.

      We only used Win9x for games.

      Win NT3.5 -> 3.51, 4, 2000 then Linux for Servers.

      Workstations/laptops: WFWG3.11 with Win32S, 33 bit disk, -> NT 4.0 Workstation -> XP -> Linux.

      In up till about 2006 some PCs/Laptops had WFWG3.11/Win95/XP/Linux multiboot using NT Boot.ini and a WFW/Win98 selection option after DOS 7.0

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: 486 PC, with Windows 3.1

        I have no idea how Windows was configured exactly. I fed umpteen floppy disks into the computer, and when I was thoroughly demoralised with RSI, the job was done. The graphics card was a Trident of some kind - I remember only because I kind of liked the name - it was a 486DX2 66, it had 8MB of RAM, and it was quick enough to run Doom well. By any measure, it should have whipped a 16MHz '030 (also with 8MB RAM).

        Sure enough, for games (albeit only games running in DOS) it did whip the Mac. But, thanks to the Mac's tightly coupled hardware and software, the SE/30 did just about everything 'serious' much quicker - even with the overhead of running A/UX as well.

        Then I got the Quadra - and that even ran Doom well as well!

        One minor point - the 486 maxed out at 32MB RAM onboard (according to the manual - although I never got that high), and the combo of IDE and DOS gave it a fairly risible upper limit on hard disk. I still have the SE/30 and Quadra, and they're rocking 128MB RAM each, 9GB of storage, and 10BT Ethernet. If push came to shove, I could just about use them today for quite a lot of serious work - even now, they're still nice machines.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Macs benefitted from things like 68000 CPUs and SCSI

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        SCSI - helped with offboard storage and high res scanners, the sort of thing that later on FireWire would be handy for.

  4. Empire of the Pussycat

    It was all downhill after Snow Leopard

    Fluffiest of the big cats.

    1. sbt Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: It was all downhill after Snow Leopard

      Really? I started with Snow Leopard (bought the DVD!), Mavericks was better but not really happy until El Capitan. I'll finish upgrading my desktop to Mojave one of the days (that's as far as it will go).

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: It was all downhill after Snow Leopard

        Last year I retired my Macbook Pro 2009 model and put Snow Leopard back on it. With an SSD drive the boot time is about 10s to the user desktop - and that includes a second or two checking the DVD to see if there is a disk present. The brand new Macbook Air M1 takes about 35 seconds to boot to the user desktop.

        But... but.. progress!

      2. bish

        Re: It was all downhill after Snow Leopard

        Snow Leopard was properly rock solid and bomb proof, too (for my uses: ymmv). It seemed like they'd finally cracked it, and the spinning beach ball of death had been vanquished once and for all. But no, it was a total one off. I've put it on a handful of older machines in the last couple of years, and while it's a bit visually rusty and misses a few features I've come to rely on, it remains the snappiest and most stable (excluding earlier-age, featureless stuff) consumer OS I've ever used.

    2. David Austin

      Re: It was all downhill after Snow Leopard

      Have a fond spot for Snow Leopard; It felt amazing at the time, as it was light on features but big on performance increase and smoothness from it's vanilla leopard predecessor. It just felt "Right" to use.

      I know (Some) versions that came after are objectively better, but as an occasional OS X user, Snow Leopard felt like the definitive version.

      1. Andrew Hodgkinson

        Re: It was all downhill after Snow Leopard

        Couldn't agree more. Snow Leopard was Apple's Windows 2000.

        My first foray into OS X happened because of Vista, so I suppose I've got Microsoft to thank. Took one look at it and went "hell no", so got a 2011 Intel MBP, 4GB RAM. Fastest laptop I'd ever owned. Still working today, but it did need its discrete GPU re-soldering - early lead-free solder strikes again.

        Speaking of "strikes again", suddenly, OS X Lion happened. I "upgraded" and everything ground to a halt - never mind multiple features being removed like the 4x4 desktop grid in favour of the hopeless horizontal-only strip-of-un-renameable-doom we have to this day, or the horrible linen background on any 2nd monitor thanks to the newly introduced, and thoroughly unreliable from app-to-app "full screen" mode, thankfully resolved in 10.8 - but the main problem was RAM.

        Those days, you could upgrade RAM in Mac laptops. Imagine that! So I went from 4GB to 8GB. It was better, but still sluggish. So I went to the chipset maximum of 16GB and _finally_ Lion ran as well as Snow Leopard.

        Four times less efficient. Four! And from a user-facing perspective, it seemed to have taken more features away than it added.

        Similar story ever since - things Apple don't seem to have touched get more and more broken with each release, never to be fixed; occasionally some "big rewrite" happens and the new replacement is far more buggy, far bigger and slower and far less functional than its predecessor. Examples:

        • Original iMovie rewrite tho that at least has improved over time

        • iPhoto to Photos which hasn't improved over time

        • Aperture to, well, what, Photos? Really?!

        • iTunes to the incomprehensibly slow, buggy and feature-poor Music app which seems basically just stagnant

        • The various incarnations of Messages which thanks to Catalyst have got more and more iOS-like, and less and less Mac-like, especially if you want to do something ground-breaking like selecting more than one conversation at once in its sidebar

        So don't, for heaven's sake, ask for the Finder to be rewritten. I can't even begin to imagine what kind of bloated, dysfunctional horror story would arise (well - I guess I could look at the iOS Files app and have a pretty good idea... Shudder!).

  5. SW10
    Happy

    I did like Aqua

    Today I can see that it took up a ridiculous amount of real estate, but it was so different and very pleasing

    1. DS999

      Re: I did like Aqua

      That was peak "GUI eye candy". Now it has swung to the other extreme, with flat/dark UIs everywhere you look. I guess UIs are doomed to be like the fashion industry, and move in cycles always seeking something new.

      People even complain about the UIs in cable/satellite set top boxes if they haven't changed in a few years. As if changing the layout and color schemes of a TV's UI improves the experience in any conceivable way...

      1. mevets Bronze badge

        Re: I did like Aqua

        I am afraid that novelty is the desired experience is for many.

        Looking at a dock stuffed full of horrid little cartoons ranging from finder's dali-esque to manga-inspired firefox; only preview and calendar are obvious representations of the programs behind them. I hoped when they canned sir-wanks-a-lot, they might revert to some sort of useful indicator, or introduce a means to just have little text boxes with the programs name in it.

    2. David Austin

      Re: I did like Aqua

      Still use the "Aqua" theme for WinAmp.

      ...I may have just dated myself with that sentence.

  6. trevorde Silver badge

    Hardly a success

    Two decades on, stuck at 10% of the desktop market and *still* no decent software

    1. Timbo 1

      Re: Hardly a success

      Oh dear. There's always one.

      I can't be arsed biting, nearly home time (aka two steps to my couch). Anyone else up for it?

    2. DoctorNine

      Re: Hardly a success

      It's not volume alone that determines sales success. It's profit per unit sales. For reference, see Chanel. Or Porsche.

      I suppose the utilitarian view of the computer as a machine, which those of us at The Reg can espouse since we generally use whatever is thrown at us, would simply assess capabilities and compare the cost to obtain them within each ecosystem. But consumers don't generally do that. They want a curated, premium experience, and will buy based upon that criterion.

      Apple delivers on that.

      Since the desktop is no longer where most consumers do their computing, by far the most important thing to them is ease of use with their watches, phones, intelligent houses, and cars. In this competition, which you can see with Apple Car Play, Apple watches, and Apple phones, they have a reasonable amount of success.

      So despite the desktop OS per se not holding a great percentage of the desktop market, the ecosystem which it created, has a very large percentage of mindshare. And that's what's important.

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Hardly a success

      "Hardly a success"

      I can give you $2.024 trillion reasons why your post is bollocks.

      1. Empire of the Pussycat

        Re: Hardly a success

        But almost 2.024 trillion of those reasons are unrelated to MacOs.

        It's become bloated, slow, fiddly and flakey.

  7. DrBobK

    System 7 was so bad that I switched to windows. By Vista I switched back to macOS and I'm still there (although I have to have windows and linux machines for specific projects). Nothing on the horizon seems to be pointing me away from macOS anytime soon.

  8. Nick

    I don't *love* MacOS, but I do like...

    ...the fact that its Time Machine backup (and restore) just works every time. This unlike anything I've ever experienced on the Windows platform, paid or otherwise (excluding several very solid disk imaging progs - but that's not really a backup)

    1. Tim99 Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: I don't *love* MacOS, but I do like...

      I agree. I rotate 3 TM backup disks, which have saved me from self-inflicted brain-fade on a couple of occasions; in particular being able to put back deleted emails. BUT, because I have earnt my paranoia, I have 3 Rotated Carbon Copy Cloner bootable back-ups too.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Time Machine

      Is also great for moving to another system. Take a backup and then connect the TM drive to the new system while you are setting it up and MacOS does everything for you. No more searching for license keys or software. All your files and apps get moved over.

      This is the sort of thing that Windows has been lacking in since V1.0.

    3. Empire of the Pussycat

      Re: I don't *love* MacOS, but I do like...

      Er, no it doesn't.

      Try using it to migrate to hardware, it's train wreck.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: I don't *love* MacOS, but I do like...

        Eh?

        I used a TM backup last August to move from a 2012 15in MBP to a 2020 16in MBP and it went like a dream. Everything moved across including all applications (some homegrown) my passwords and bookmarks and .... well everything.

        In November I moved a friends setup from a 2011 Mini to a 2019 mini again, without issue.

        The only prep we did was to make sure that all the apps were 64bit versions.

        I know that I'm not alone in having that sort of experience. i.e. Good.

        If you know different perhaps you might like to explain what went wrong?

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I don't *love* MacOS, but I do like...

          The old migration assistant used to break things between versions by copying incompatible preferences files around. So annoying!

    4. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Every Time, until it doesn't

      I too was a happy Time Machine user, until I discovered (a bit late to the party) that round about Sierra time people had started having issues with networked drives. No warning, just one day "corrupted backup, oh, well, suck to be you" Fair bit of comment to this affect on various fora, nary a peep, then or last I checked a couple moths ago. Apparently not affecting drives connected directly, only networked drives. And of course not _always_ failing, so the comments could fill with "well, it worked for me, you must be evil to impugn it"

      Shifted to a USB external drive directly connected to the computer, burning one of the scarce USB ports.

      Still using Macs and planning to update a couple to the ARM models once a few pioneers have soaked up the arrows in the back. But really, it's just "well, most of alternatives suck more"

      And BTW yes, Snow Leopard was "peak stability/reliability". That's why it had to die.

  9. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Windows 95 – which combined

    The article describes either NT4.0 or NT3.51 with the Preview of the explorer shell.

    Win95 didn't initially have USB.

    It didn't do 32 bits or multitasking any better than Windows For Workgroups 3.11 with 32 bit drivers, VFW etc. It added Direct X to allow easy porting of DOS games. NT had OpenGL, which didn't exist on Win95. Essentially WFWG 3.11 with an updated VFW and the 32 bit Wins and 32 bit drivers bundled. It wass still mostly 16 bits, so was massively slower on a Pentium Pro than NT3.51 or NT4.0

    The comparison for OS X is NT 5.1, AKA Windows XP, and maybe for OS 9, NT 3.51 and NT 5.0 AKA Windows 2000.

    Windows 95 had good driver support, the Explorer Desktop and the upgrade to Office 4.3. It loaded via booting DOS. It more seamlessly ran DOS games and the new DirectX ports from DOS.

    By default it didn't have TCP/IP installed, but like WFWG 3.11, the NetBEUI.

    The description of NextStep, OS9 and OSX sounds plausible. But not that of Win95. Win95 damaged NT workstation sales and OS/2 sales more than Mac, which by then outside the USA was a niche for publishing. Adobe Premiere Video Editing worked as well on Win 3.1 etc as Win95, and on win95 initially used win 3.x drivers and ISA cards for the video I/O.

    Mac was in decline till MS gave a cash injection and people bought the original CRT all-in-one iMac due to hype. Apple's finances only turned around due to the iTunes per track deal with record companies and the iPod. Which initially was hard to connect to Win 9x.

    1. DS999

      Re: Windows 95 – which combined

      What matters is that Windows 95 brought GUIs to the mass consumer market. Yes it was missing some things (hard to whine about USB being absent in 1995 though) but that was during a period of rapid technological change when we moved in short order from floppy to CD to DVD to internet/cloud as the favored software distribution mechanism.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Windows 95 – which combined

        I don’t think I can agree with that. Windows 3 could arguably lay claim to that title. So could MacOS for that matter. Gem can make a solid claim to mass market GUI as well, especially through its incarnation on the ST, as can Amiga OS. By the mid nineties, GUIs were everywhere. They were common as muck. If you bought a computer, you had a device with a GUI - even on pocket devices like the Psion 3.

        Windows 95 was just another update in an already crowded market. All Windows 95 did was kill off the stragglers and homogenise the market.

        1. WallMeerkat

          Re: Windows 95 – which combined

          I liked Windows 3.x (as my first PC ran it), with modern touch screen interfaces the likes of Program Manager would make sense again.

          GEM was nice, but it was Apple who hobbled it for v2.0 as it had looked too much like a Mac/Lisa desktop. They were forced to have 2 permanent windows open. For some reason the Atari TOS version didn't need to have this. (And with the Mac ROMs in Spectre the Atari made a fine Mac)

          Windows 95 gave a nice Mac style desktop (And with Microsoft backing Office/IE on Mac, Apple couldn't complain)

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: Windows 95 – which combined

            For that matter, with MagiCMac, the Mac made a fine ST!

  10. TRT Silver badge

    It's always been a favourite in my line of work. There's such a load of niche software around; some of it runs only on Windows, whereas a lot of the "power" tools are 'nix, and then there's the typographic beauty that the Macintosh systems seem to excel at (OK, maybe they've lost that edge now, but still...) and the ease with which you can put a GUI onto a 'nix command line application... it's just the perfect tool for HE & research.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, and it comes with full man pages (and info pages, if so inclined). I essentially live in an xterm.

  11. theOtherJT

    Best bit about MacOS...

    While Windows has undergone multiple UI changes, macOS has largely remained mutually intelligible with its predecessors

    While Apple has many faults the fact that they've resisted the urge to fuck about with the core UI design concepts is very much to their credit. It's not perfect by any means but unlike windows I can't remember any point in the last 20 years where it just took a massive step... well, if not backwards, then certainly sideways... for no obvious reason.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Best bit about MacOS...

      The traffic light button functions... that's a minor irritation, but still a bit of a shift in UI function. Some of the individual Apple Apps have seen some terrible design shifts - column sorting in Mail, for example. But still very much how it's always been. To give Microsoft some credit... they ditched TIFM-by-force pretty rapidly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Best bit about MacOS...

      The latest version though is pretty bad compared to the previous versions. They're trying to treat the laptops / desktops as giant mobile devices. Especially annoying are the calendar notifications which are now hard to clear (the close cross is hidden) and a click in the wrong place launches the calendar which is irritating.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Best bit about MacOS...

      > While Apple has many faults the fact that they've resisted the urge to fuck about with the core UI design concepts is very much to their credit.

      Borderless windows are a pita. And scroll bars that are too thin.

      Folders in the Dock: I click on a folder (e.g. downloads) and it pops-up a stack and 99.9999% of the time I want to "Open in Finder". So where is that option? At the very top of the stack, requiring the largest possible mouse movement to get to it. D'oh.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Best bit about MacOS...

      "Natural" mousewheel/trackpad scrolling, changing the green traffic light to full-screen instead of maximise/restore, removing the dock's app open activity indicators underneath the app icons, auto-hiding scrollbars, and removing Save As are my particular bugbears. I think all of these came about during Lion/Mountain Lion releases, which is a period which is best forgotten.

    5. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Best bit about MacOS...

      I agree with this. Keep the UI essentially the same for 20 years is very wise. Far too many companies love change for the sake of change. This includes more than Microsoft. And almost always, the change is a gigantic step backwards.

      Of course, you have the obvious regression from Windows 7 to everything after. Not to be overlooked, Apple unwisely removing the home button from the iPhone. TiVo's new UI is very much inferior to the old UI. The same is true for the Amazon Fire devices. And there are many more.

      Thankfully, Roku has not been infected by the change fetish. I just hope it stays that way.

      1. destructo

        Re: Best bit about MacOS...

        20 years? I have a 1984 Mac that I dig out every decade or so, just for kicks, and I am surprised by the changes, since they came on slowly, but System 3g still makes me feel at home. Someone newly using macOS would be productive at once - if it’s possible to be productive with a 9” grey-scale monitor, 4meg of memory, and MacWrite...

  12. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Windows 95 wasn't better, but it was just good enough

    Windows 95 was still a shell that ran on DOS and used the same kind of cooperative multitasking that MacOS did. But the GUI was good enough for the mass market and the APIs were good enough for the developers. Not that companies were ready to ditch their expensive beige boxes for even more expensive but prettier ones from Cupertino.

    Apple has always been guilty of picking its customers and often going for style over function. It got this right with the iMacs, which were bought by people who didn't want PCs any more. This pivot to the consumer was a risk that paid off and has continued to pay off since then. For Jobs, Next was a necessary evil and you can see that Apple are trying to get rid of the unix underpinnings as they drive everything towards some form of IOS, which is a pity because the shell, along with DisplayPostscript, is one of the nicest bits of the OS.

    1. DarkwavePunk

      Re: Windows 95 wasn't better, but it was just good enough

      I'm not quite sure where you got that idea from about Win95. Are you talking about Win 3.x? Sure 95 had different 16/32 modes but I'm pretty sure pre-emptive multitasking was there.*

      I always looked at Win95 as a nasty version of OS/2 that won because of market traction (that's for another debate)

      * believe Win95 even had memory protection of some description. I'm looking at you Amiga. Pre-emptive multitasking with memory trampling isn't fun. Anyway, it's Friday and I'm going to have a pint of Guru Meditation.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Windows 95 wasn't better, but it was just good enough

        Amiga OS had an exokernel before MIT invented the term and it got magnitudes more performance out of the contemporary CPUs than Windows did. The latest release of Amiga OS had a flag for publicly accessible memory which didn't do anything but it seems they had plans to flick the switch one day and turn on memory protection on those machines with an MMU.

        But the MMU could always be used by Enforcer to find bugs while you write programs.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Windows 95 wasn't better, but it was just good enough

        Windows 95 was still DOS-based. The NT kernel didn't arrive until Windows XP, not least because consumer hardware didn't meet the demands.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Windows 95 wasn't better, but it was just good enough

          DOS was running one program - Windows, which had preemptive multitasking. It was the big thing it had over the Mac's System 7.

        2. WallMeerkat

          Re: Windows 95 wasn't better, but it was just good enough

          For consumer purposes XP was the NT migration, but for professional workstations/servers the NT line was there from 3.1/3.51 (which running Office 97 can still be moderately useful, confuse everyone with the Win3.1 style windowing!), 4.0 (basically 3.5.1 with a 95 shell), 2000 (one of my favourite Windows versions, so stable)

  13. /tmp

    UNIX underpinnings?

    https://www.gocomics.com/foxtrot/2002/02/25

  14. Borg.King
    Mushroom

    Magnesium

    Was the NeXT cube's material, aluminum does spark as well when pulled along the street behind a car.

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