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It’s been 20 years since the launch of Mac OS X

Promotional image from Apple event.
Enlarge / When presenting a new path forward, Apple CEO Tim Cook place the ARM transition up with the Mac’s other major transitions: PowerPC, MacOS X, and Intel.

It was two decades ago to the day—March 24, 2001—that Mac OS X 1st became accessible to customers the globe more than. We’re not generally major on empty sentimentality right here at Ars, but the milestone seemed worthy of a rapid note.

Of course, Mac OS X (or macOS ten as it was later identified) did not very survive to its 20th birthday final year’s macOS Big Sur update brought the version quantity up to 11, ending the reign of X.

But regardless of its double life on x86 and ARM processors and its increasingly close ties to iOS and iPadOS, today’s macOS is nevertheless extremely considerably a direct descendant of that original Mac OS X release. Mac OS X, in turn, evolved in portion from Steve Jobs’ Subsequent operating system—which had lately been acquired by Apple—and its launch was the harbinger of the second Jobs era at Apple.

Cheetah, Mac OS X’s initial release, was quite buggy. But it introduced a quantity of items that are nevertheless present in the operating technique currently. Those integrated the dock, which—despite some refinements and added features—is nevertheless fundamentally the similar now as it ever was, as effectively as the contemporary version of Finder. And although macOS has noticed a quantity of UI and style tweaks that have changed more than time, the footprints of Cheetah’s considerably-hyped Aqua interface can nevertheless be discovered all more than Big Sur.

OS X brought several new capabilities and technologies we now take for granted, also. For instance, it enabled Apple’s laptops to wake up from sleep right away, and it introduced dynamic memory management, amongst other items.

Mac OS X’s greatest effect in retrospect could be in the part it had in inspiring and propping up iOS, which has far surpassed macOS as Apple’s most broadly utilized operating technique. And certainly, macOS lives in a extremely unique context currently than it did in 2001. It was recently bumped from the No.two operating technique spot globally by Google’s Chrome OS, ending a extremely lengthy run for Mac OS as the world’s second-most common desktop operating technique in terms of units shipped.

The most common desktop operating technique in 2021 is Windows, just as it was in 2001, but the most common OS general is Google’s Android, which has significantly bigger market place share in the mobile space than iOS does.

So although Mac OS X’s influence is profound, it exists currently mainly as a assistance for iOS, which is also itself not the most common OS in its category. Despite Apple’s resounding good results in the second Steve Jobs era, as effectively as in the current Tim Cook era, the Mac is nevertheless a fairly niche platform—beloved by some, but skipped by considerably of the mainstream.

After 20 years, a lot has changed, but a entire lot has stayed the similar.

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