Mac OS X


In the 1992 NeXTWORLD Expo, NEXTSTEP 486, a version (costing $995) for the PC was announced. Versions 3.1 and 3.2 were released in May and October, 1993, respectively. The last version of NEXTSTEP, 3.3, was released in February, 1995. A bit earlier, in 1994, NeXT and Sun had jointly released specifications for OpenStep, an open platform (comprised of several APIs and frameworks) that anybody could use to create their own implementation of *STEP. NeXT's implementation was named OPENSTEP, the successor to the NEXTSTEP operating system. Three versions of OPENSTEP were ever released: 4.0 (July 22, 1996), 4.1 (December, 1996), and 4.2 (January, 1997). SunOS, HP-UX, and even Windows NT had implementations at a point. The GNUstep Project still exists. Even though *STEP ran on many architectures (multi-architecture "fat binaries" were introduced by NeXT), by 1996, things were not looking good for them, and NeXT was giving more importance to WebObjects, a development tool for the Web.

Meanwhile, Apple had been desperately seeking to create an operating system that could compete with the onslaught from Microsoft. They actually wanted to beat Windows 95 to market, but failed. Apple suffered a setback when Pink OS, a joint venture between IBM and Apple, was killed in 1995. Apple eventually started work on an advanced operating system codenamed Copland, which was first announced to the public in 1994. The first beta of Copland went out in November, 1995, but a 1996 release (as planned and hoped) did not seem feasible. Soon afterwards, Apple announced that they would start shipping "pieces of Copland technology" beginning with System 7.6. Copland turned out to be a damp squib.

At this point Apple became interested in buying Be, a company that was becoming popular as the maker of the BeBox, running the BeOS. The deal between Apple's Gil Amelio and Be's Gassée never materialized - it has been often reported that Apple offered $125 million while Be wanted an "outrageous" $200 million plus. The total investment in Be at that time was estimated to be only $20 million!

Apple then considered Windows NT, Solaris and even Pink OS. Then, Steve Jobs called Amelio, and advised him that Be was not a good fit for Apple's OS roadmap. NeXT contacted Apple to discuss possibilities of licensing OPENSTEP, which, unlike BeOS, had at least been proven in the market. Jobs pitched NeXT technology very strongly to Apple, and asserted that OPENSTEP was many years ahead of its time. All this worked out, and Apple acquired NeXT in February, 1997, for $427 million. Amelio later quipped that "We choose Plan A instead of Plan Be."

Apple named its upcoming NeXT-based system Rhapsody, while it continued to improve the existing Mac OS, often with technology that was supposed to go into Copland. Rhapsody saw two developer releases, in September, 1997, and May, 1998.

Jobs became the interim CEO of Apple on September 16, 1997.

Mac OS X was first mentioned in Apple's OS strategy announcement at the 1998 WWDC. Jobs said that OS X would ship in the fall of 1999, and would inherit from both Mac OS and Rhapsody. Moreover, backward compatibility would be maintained to ease customers into the transition.

Mac OS X did come out in 1999, as Mac OS X Server 1.0 (March 16, 1999), a developer preview of the desktop version, and as Darwin 0.1. Mac OS X beta was released on September 13, 2000.