Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mac OS X beginnings: NeXTSTEP

Now a decade after its first release, now’s the time for some nostalgic Mac OS X goodness. Let’s take a look at the Mac’s most far-reaching and advanced operating system from inception and infancy to its now very adult-like capabilities and features.

OS X beginnings: NeXTSTEP

NeXTSTEP screenshot thanks to
If you weren’t aware, the OS X Snow Leopard we know and love today was actually birthed from an operating system developed during the late-1980s to mid-1990s called NeXTSTEP. NeXTSTEP, from the Steve Jobs-owned company, NeXT, was an more modern multitasking operating system and well ahead of its time. However, bundled with capable though very expensive hardware, NeXTSTEP struggled to gain marketshare with competing “workstation” computers, and eventually Microsoft Windows became the preferred platform in both business and consumer markets.

Apple, then a competing company for Steve Jobs, also faced the same struggles. And by the mid- to late-1990s, Apple was desperate for a solution, as their main product line, the Macintosh, was no longer as competitive because of its aging, single-user and single-tasking operating system, OS 9.

An agreement was made. Apple bought NeXT, and with it all the advanced technologies within the NeXTSTEP operating system. With Steve Jobs back at Apple as an interim-CEO, and with NeXTSTEP in tow, Apple got to work on the next generation of OS called OS X. That’s “X” for “ten.”

Next post, we'll look at the brainchild of these efforts, OS X 10.0—aka Cheetah.

Here's a video of Steve Jobs demoing NeXTSTEP 3, the last major iteration of the operating system software:

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