Essay: MacOS

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  • Subject area(s): Information technology essays
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  • Published on: January 7, 2019
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  • MacOS
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It was in the year of 1984 that Apple released the first affordable personal computer for the general public consumer called the Macintosh. From that day to this, Apple have grown from strength to strength. The operating system used by Macintosh personal computers and laptops has changed greatly since its infancy and is now what makes Apple one of the world leaders in Personal computer and laptop sales. For me personally I made the change from Personal computers that ran Windows operating systems to Mac operating systems in more recent times. I truly love the end user experience and convenience of usability that comes with MacOS and it is for this reason that the subject of MacOS has ignited my interest and steered me towards choosing this topic for my report.

Early days

The original operating that came on board the first Macintosh personal computer was called “Macintosh system software”. Nowadays we refer to this operating system as classic MacOS. It was partially based on Apples Lisa and Xerox Parc alto operating systems. There were nine major version releases of this classic MacOS which spanned from the first release in 1984 to the final release in 1999. (Wikipedia)

Some of the features such as finder and menu bar included in that first release are still used today in the most up to date versions of MacOS.

This original MacOS is credited with popularising the graphic user interface concept which is used by most machines today. To give us an idea of how we have come with regards to advances I will give some of the specs of the Apple Macbook Pro I am writing this report on at this very moment. The processor in this Machine is a 2.3Ghz intel core i7. It has four independent cores an a single silicon chip that can carry out numerous heavy duty tasks at the same time.

In comparison the first MacOS was compatible with the Motorola 68000 or Motorola 68K which is a 16/32 bit CISC microprocessor which implements a 32 bit instruction set, 32 bit registers, 32 bit internal bus but a 16 bit main ALU and 16 bit external bus. (

Over the years consumers’ needs changed along with the advances in computer science like the world wide web and the requirements for networking. People were buying computer for various different reasons such as domestic and commercial purposes. The original operating system that was released with the Macintosh computer had as mentioned been developed between 1984 and 1999 with nine various major releases. However there were big changes to come. These changes were sparked by the return of a man who was previously employed by Apple, a man who will be remembered in computer science circles and indeed history in general. This man was Steve Jobs. It would be wrong of me not to briefly discuss this man while speaking about anything Apple related so I will briefly discuss Steve Jobs in the next section.

A visionary

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976. They are known for their contribution to the computer tech industry and for success with the Apple 2 PC and for the massive breakthrough with the Apple Macintosh in 1984. All did not remain happy in Apple for Jobs and through a power struggle he left the company in 1985. He went on to found NeXt a computer platform development company and also had an involvement with Pixar Animation company. However Steve Jobs was back working with Apple when in 1997 Next merged with Apple. It was only a couple on months before Jobs was CEO of his once former company.

Big changes

After the return of Steve Jobs a programme was put in place, to develop an operating system using technology from NeXTSTEP, then called OPENSTEP. This was a Unix based operating system which was developed by Steve Jobs company NeXT. This programme was known as code name Rhapsody and later officially as Apple Mac OS. This started the line of operating systems that is still used today and even the operating system this modern MacBook Pro runs which is the latest from Apple (High Sierra Version 10.13.3) is a part of that operating system family that is Unix based which started in 2001. As already outlined this is the successor of the original operating system family known as classic Mac operating systems.

Unix-Sorting out a big problem

Going back over time and returning to the earlier days of operating systems there was a very big problem in the area regarding varying hardware manufacturers. Computers had machine hardware dependant operating systems that were more often than not written in assembler language. These Operating systems were not portable meaning you could not use them on different manufacturer hardware’s. In 1969 at AT&T two computer scientists by the names of Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie developed an operating system called Unix which was written in C language. Thompson originally wrote the B language (C language predecessor) and Ritchie later wrote C language.

Unix was now able to work on different manufactures hardware as C language runs in all hardware which made Unix portable and this was its main strength.

At that time, there was a law that AT&T were not allowed sell this operating system but instead distributed it to learning institutions such as colleges and universities. Over the years Unix has been worked on and improved by these institutions and developers. This is the origins for where Apple started to base their family id Mac OS on.

Under the hood

As we are aware the Mac OS as we know it today made big changes with its release in 2001. It was however run on PowerPC based macs using POWER microprocessors and used the POWER instruction set architecture until 2005. Apple then released an announcement that they were switching to Intel x86 Microprocessors. This was only the second such change since the 1984 release of the Macintosh PC. The first was the change of the Motorola 68K to Power architecture and now the change to intel. A special Mac OS was released with this change the Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger which used an emulator called Rosetta for backward compatibility regarding programmes. Apple still uses intel microprocessor chips to this day and it is what is under the hood of my MacBook Pro.

The competition

Over the years the competition has been fierce between both Apple and its main competitor Microsoft. It is fair to say that although both tech giants have won many battles over the years neither has won the war. Perhaps this is the way it will always be. Some say that with the release of Windows 3.0 in the early 1990’s led to a disastrous decade for the mac. Then the release of Windows 95 along with the Pentium processor was more warning signs for Apple who tried in vain to compete with its clone program. However apple bounced back with the release of the trendy iMac in 1998. Apple has been on the up and up ever since.

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