Today marks the tenth birthday of Mac OS X, which officially debuted on March 24th, 2001 as Mac OS X 10.0 with an internal codename of “Cheetah”. As noted by Macworld, the release in retrospect was a milestone in Apple’s transformation from a struggling computer company into the major technology behemoth it is today.
Though nobody knew it at the time, the release, codenamed Cheetah, was the first step in transforming Apple from a company poised on the verge of disaster into the second most valuable company in the world.
While the impact of Mac OS X on Apple’s products and the user experience they provide is undeniable, the early days of the operating system were anything but perfect, from a shaky public beta released in late 2000 through the public launch of Cheetah that necessitated rapid fixes and improvements that led to the release of Mac OS X 10.1 “Puma” just six months later. As Ars Technica noted in an extensive review of Mac OS X 10.0.0, the release showed “tremendous promise” despite obviously still being a work in progress.
Mac OS X has obviously come a long way in the ten years since its initial release, but Apple has also become much more than a computer company: revolutionizing music consumption with the iPod, recreating the smartphone market with the iPhone, and most recently finally catapulting the tablet market into consumers’ awareness with the iPad. In the process, Apple’s operating system for mobile devices, iOS, has itself matured and yielded a number of new innovations and features.
Consequently, Apple has chosen to position the next step in the evolution of Mac OS X as “Back to the Mac”, an effort to bring some of the most popular features of iOS to the Mac platform for the first time while retaining the familiarity, flexibility, and horsepower of Mac OS X. That next step, Mac OS X Lion, is set to debut sometime this summer, and developers and users should be able to learn much more about Apple’s efforts at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference presumably set to occur in June or July.