On Sept. 13, 2000, Apple launched Mac OS X Public Beta, the primary public launch of OS X to incorporate the Dock. It was additionally the primary to characteristic the unprecedented eye sweet that was the Aqua interface. It marked the start of a brand new period for Mac, and one we’re nonetheless dwelling in 20 years later.
A Lifeline for Apple
By the late ’90s, Apple’s basic Mac OS felt antiquated. It didn’t help protected memory, pre-emptive multitasking, or user-level access control. It was additionally susceptible to irritating system crashes.
Its interface design was, arguably, additionally falling behind Home windows. Apple knew Mac OS wanted a basic redesign from the bottom up. Nevertheless, software program compatibility points pushed Apple to maintain extending the identical fundamental system structure it had used since 1984.
The hunt to switch basic Mac OS was a protracted and messy course of. It concerned a number of inner initiatives and a seek for an acquisition goal that may convey new expertise to the corporate. This led Apple to buy Steve Jobs’ NeXT in 1997 with the intent of creating its NeXTSTEP operating system the premise for a brand new, fashionable substitute for Mac OS.
With Steve Jobs’ NeXT crew in cost, Apple started juggling the wants of legacy Mac homeowners, whereas attempting to make NeXTSTEP palatable to a mass viewers. The outcome was Mac OS X.
Not like Traditional Mac OS (however like NeXTSTEP), Mac OS X was based mostly on a Unix-like BSD core known as Darwin. This made it extremely secure and constructed the inspiration for the Mac to turn into the wonderful developer platform it grew to become. Fashionable variations of macOS are nonetheless based mostly on the Darwin core.
After some early beta variations of OS X have been launched to builders in early 2000, Apple determined to make the brand new OS obtainable on CD-ROM via its web site for $29.95. This allowed Mac homeowners to place the brand new software program via its paces.
Clients who bought the CD additionally acquired a $30 low cost on a future buy of Mac OS X 10.0 (the Public Beta model expired on Could 14, 2001). This gave folks sufficient time to pattern the brand new OS and supply useful suggestions to Apple.
An Aqua Revolution
In 1999, Apple launched an early model of OS X based mostly on prototypes known as Rhapsody. It was principally NeXTSTEP re-skinned with Apple’s basic Mac OS “Platinum” theme.
Whereas the underlying new expertise was there, Rhapsody’s boring look didn’t excite many individuals. It additionally didn’t encourage builders, who grumbled about having to rewrite their Mac software program for the brand new platform.
Apple knew it wanted one thing particular to draw extra consideration. The corporate secretly began engaged on a flashy new interface called Aqua. It included built-in help for big icons, and shadows and transparency. The colourful buttons and interface parts additionally had a recent translucent look.
The Aqua interface was an enormous shock when Steve Jobs first introduced it on the Macworld Convention and Expo in January 2000 (see the video under). Throughout his demo, Jobs delighted in displaying off graphical options we now take as a right, like drop shadows beneath home windows, icon magnification, and high-resolution icons.
Aqua’s look has modified over time, and Apple not refers to it by identify. Nonetheless, it’s the premise of the fashionable macOS Catalina interface.
The Mac OS X Dock additionally debuted at that January 2000 demo. It supplied a versatile, succesful approach of launching and managing apps. It additionally lastly allowed Mac OS to meet up with the performance of the Windows task bar.
Notable Similarities and Variations
The similarities between the 20-year-old Mac OS X Public Beta and macOS Catalina are fairly wonderful. They each have the Dock, high-resolution icons, three window management buttons (purple, yellow, and inexperienced), international PDF help, and run on Darwin.
There’s a solid of acquainted built-in functions, as nicely: Preview, Mail.app, TextEdit, Tackle Ebook, Stickies, QuickTime, Calculator, and an early model of Chess.
Mac OS X Public Beta additionally had some notable variations from Mac OS X and later macOS releases. One of the crucial apparent was the Apple brand was within the heart of the menu bar, fairly than the higher left.
Whereas Mac OS X Public Beta’s pinstripe theme and translucent sweet buttons endured till Mac OS X 10.2, they have been finally changed by a brushed steel look with Mac OS X 10.three Panther.
OS X Public Beta additionally lacked some useful comfort options, like Exposé, Widgets, Notifications, and Launchpad. It additionally didn’t embrace an App Retailer—that didn’t arrive till 2011 as a obtain on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
A couple of notable Apps have been additionally lacking. As a substitute of Safari (which debuted in 2003), the Public Beta shipped with a model of Web Explorer that had a particular Aqua theme.
OS X Public Beta additionally included a cutting-edge search app known as Sherlock that was later changed by Highlight.
There’s additionally no signal of iTunes or Apple Music, however only a bare-bones Music Participant that might play CDs or MP3s. Even lacking these, although, its extensive suite of included functions and utilities makes Mac OS X Public Beta nonetheless really feel comparatively fashionable.
A Persevering with Legacy
Avie Tevanian, the previous chief software program expertise officer at Apple and a Mac OS X developer, as soon as mentioned Apple designed OS X with a 20-30 year life span in mind.
In 2000, 30 years will need to have appeared like an unthinkably very long time for a software program structure to stay viable. But, right here we’re at almost the top of 2020, and OS X (now “macOS”) continues to do the heavy lifting for Macs. And it’ll possible proceed to take action for no less than one other decade, throughout many architectural shifts.