Kodiak to Lion: 10 Years of Mac OS X

A look back at the history of Mac OS X, the tenth major version of Apple's operating system and the most critically acclaimed of the bunch.

10 Years of Apple's OS X

Apple's OS X has been around for a decade. Let's take a look at its most popular releases.

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The Mac OS X Public Beta, nicknamed "Kodiak", was an early beta version of Apple's Mac OS X operating system Cheetah. It was released to the public on September 13, 2000 for $29.95. It had major differences from the previous operating system, OS 9, most notably the Aqua interface, the dock, and the menu bar, all of which are synonymous with Macs today. (viathe Mac Observer)


Mac OS X version 10.0, codenamed "Cheetah", was the first major update of Mac OS X. Mac OS X v10.0 was released on March 24, 2001 and sold for $129. It introduced a brand new code base completely different from that of Mac OS 9's, as well as all previous Apple operating systems. Mac OS X introduced the new Darwin Unix-like core and a new system of memory management. (via Apple)


Mac OS X version 10.1, codenamed "Puma", was the second major release of Mac OS X, and was distributed for free to Macintosh users on October 25, 2001. The OS was much better received than Cheetah, although many critics claimed it was riddled with bugs. The upgrade added easier CD burning, DVD playback, and Image Capture. (via Amazon)


The third major release of Mac OS X, "Jaguar", provided great leaps in terms of general stability and operating speed, however critics still claimed the OS was immature and hard to use. Jaguar was the first Mac OS X release to publicly use its codename in marketing and advertisements, a practice that has continued in subsequent releases. Jaguar most notably added Universal Access, programs to help the blind, deaf and handicapped use their Mac, as well as a native e-mail client. (via Amazon)


Panther (version 10.3) was the fourth major release of Mac OS X, released on October 24, 2003. It was the first of Apple's operating systems to require a New World ROM, which most older Macs were lacking. The finder was completely redesigned for Panther, and two prominent features of today's OS X were added, Expose and Safari. (via Apple)


Tiger, the longest running version of Mac OS X, was released on April 29, 2005 for $129.95. Some of the new features included a fast searching system called Spotlight, a new version of the Safari web browser, Dashboard, a new 'Unified' theme, and improved support for 64-bit addressing on Power Mac G5s. Tiger also added a dictionary, and support for more advanced graphics processors. (via ars technica)


OS X Leopard, version 10.5, is the sixth major release of Apple's desktop and server operating system released on October 26, 2007 and was available in both a desktop version and a server version. According to Apple, Leopard contains over 300 changes and enhancements over its predecessor, Mac OS X Tiger, covering core operating system components as well as included applications and developer tools. Leopard introduces a significantly revised desktop, with a redesigned Dock, Stacks, a semitransparent menu bar, and an updated Finder that incorporates the Cover Flow visual navigation interface first seen in iTunes. Other notable features include an automated backup utility called Time Machine, support for Spotlight searches across multiple machines, and the inclusion of Front Row and Photo Booth, which were previously included with only some Mac models. (viaApple)

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard was publicly unveiled on June 8, 2009 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. On August 28, 2009, it was released worldwide, and was made available for purchase from Apple's website and its retail stores for $29 for a single-user license. As a result of the low price, initial sales of Snow Leopard were significantly higher than that of its predecessors. Unlike previous versions of Mac OS X, the goals with Snow Leopard were improved performance, greater efficiency and the reduction of its overall memory footprint. Mac OS X was extensively rewritten for this release in order to fully take advantage of modern Macintosh hardware. New programming frameworks, such as OpenCL, were created, allowing software developers to use graphics cards in their applications. This is also the first Mac OS release since the introduction of System 7.1.2 that does not support the PowerPC architecture, as Apple now intends to focus on its current line of Intel-based products. (via Apple)


Mac OS X Lion (version 10.7) is to be released in summer of 2011. A preview of Lion was publicly unveiled at Apple's "Back to the Mac" event on October 20, 2010. It will bring many developments made in Apple's iOS to the Mac, such as an easy-to-navigate display of installed applications, and will include support for the Mac App Store, as introduced in Mac OS X Snow Leopard version 10.6.6. On February 24, 2011, a developer's preview of Lion was released to subscribers of Apple's developers program. (via Apple)

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