Apple made an eagerly anticipated, and ultimately vital, update to its desktop operating system on 24 March 2001.
After years of development and testing, the 10th edition of the Macintosh operating system was released to the public, who finally got their hands on an OS which Apple promised would revolutionise the Macintosh computer line.
In the coming decade, Mac OS X would deliver on its promise and then some. The platform would help to drive a resurgence for the Macintosh brand and help to bring Apple record revenues.
The OS X platform had its origins in NeXT, the company founded by Steve Jobs following his dismissal from Apple in 1985.
NeXT developed high-end desktop computers and workstations for use by enterprises and educational institutions. Based on a variant of Unix, the NeXTStep OS sported a graphical user interface, but the complete systems sold erratically.
Prior to OS X, all versions of the Macintosh OS were based on the 'classic' model Apple introduced in 1984 with the first Macintosh models.
Considered revolutionary when it hit the market in the mid 1980s, the operating system aged and, by the middle of the 1990s, it had become painfully obvious that a major overhaul for Mac OS was needed.
Users had become familiar with the clean, simplified interface of Mac OS, but the system was lacking under the hood. The technical limitations of the platform began to become major issues, causing performance and stability problems that limited the effectiveness of Apple's hardware.
Eventually, Apple's executives concluded that the Macintosh OS needed a complete overhaul. Rather than build the new system from scratch, the company decided that it would acquire a smaller vendor with an OS of its own.
NeXT was not the only choice for Apple's new operating system. A second firm, Be Inc. was also considered. Headed by former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gasse, the company's innovative BeOS was considered a prime candidate to anchor the Macintosh of the future.
Eventually, however, Apple struck a deal with Jobs and NeXT was acquired by the company for $429m. The move brought Apple's co-founder back to the company and Jobs would soon become Apple's chief executive.
Five years after NeXT was purchased by Apple, OS X was launched. On the surface and under the hood, the update was the most dramatic change to the platform since release of the first Macintosh in 1984.
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