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Revision Date Username Comment
803 Oct 2013 - 15:57norqu036? 
701 May 2013 - 09:01NicLewis 
630 Apr 2013 - 11:08NicLewis 
514 Mar 2013 - 10:27NicLewis 
411 Mar 2013 - 11:24NicLewis 
311 Mar 2013 - 09:12NicLewis 
225 Feb 2013 - 10:45NicLewis 
121 Feb 2013 - 09:32NicLewis 

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Its initial version released in 1984 on the original Macintosh computer, the Mac OS (as it was known after 1997 with Mac OS 7.6) was an early windowed, graphical operating system. The original Macintosh operating system, simply called "System" at the time, began development with the Macintosh project in 1979. "System 1," as it is retroactively known, relied completely upon a graphical user interface, lacking a command line. System 1 lacked multitasking capability, a feature that would not appear on the Macintosh until System 5, and several other advanced features, like protected memory, found on the more advanced, and far more expensive, Apple Lisa. The Xerox Alto, developed at Xerox PARC in 1973, inspired some of the graphical elements of the Macintosh OS, but features like the menu bar and drag-and-drop were Apple creations. In addition to the kernel, System 1 utilized an application called "Finder" for file management and for generating the desktop interface. The Macintosh's graphical display and available publishing software, along with laser printing, lent the Macintosh to early desktop publishing. The original Macintosh File System (MFS) utilized only one level of folders, and was replaced in 1985 by the Hierarchical File System (HFS), which used a hierarchical file tree. The Macintosh OS gained multitasking with Multifinder, introduced with System 5 in 1987. Users could disable Multifinder to revert back to single application operation.(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)

With System 7, Apple incorporated features like virtual memory support, and began transitioning to 32-bit memory addressing to utilize increasing amounts of RAM. Apple also began transitioning to the PowerPC processor architecture, moving away from the Motorola 68000-line used since the original Macintosh. Released in 2001, Mac OSX marked a break from previous Macintosh OS development, moving to a derivative of the NeXTSTEP operating system, which Apple acquired in 1996 when it purchased the NeXT computer company, founded by Steve Jobs. Mac OS X inherited NeXTSTEP's use of FreeBSD and NetBSD's implementations of Unix, and its use of the Mach kernel. OS X was not compatible with software written for previous versions of the Mac OS, spurring Apple to incorporate a compatibility layer running Mac OS 9 within OS X, in order to ease the transition between operating systems. In 2005, Apple began to transition from the PowerPC-based architecture to Intel processors. Intel-based Macs could not run software written for PowerPC versions of OS X without the aid of a software emulator, called "Rosetta." Apple dropped support for the PowerPC platform with Mac OS X 10.6. Apple dropped Rosetta support with version 10.7. Because it is POSIX compliant, many software packages written for BSD, Linux, and Unix-like operating systems can be recompiled to run on OS X.(7)(8)(9)


1 : Roy A. Allan, A History of the Personal Computer: the People and the Technology, ch. 5, London, Ontario (Allan Pub., 2001), 5/15-5/16.

2 : Roy A. Allan, A History of the Personal Computer: the People and the Technology, ch. 4, London, Ontario (Allan Pub., 2001), 4/4-4/6.

3 : Michael A. Hiltzik, Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age, New York (Harper Business, 1999), 170-173.

4 : Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Second Edition, Boulder, CO (Westview Press, 2004), 240-242.

5 : Paul E. Ceruzzi, A History of Modern Computing, Cambridge, MA (The MIT Press, 1998), 273-276.

6 , 8 : http://support.apple.com/kb/TA31885?viewlocale=en_US

7 : Paul Freiberger & Michael Swaine, Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, New York (McGraw-Hill, 2000), 317-374.

9 : Roy A. Allan, A History of the Personal Computer: the People and the Technology, ch. 5, London, Ontario (Allan Pub., 2001), 15/7-15/8.

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