Mac OS 1, 2, .. "X", ...?



On 24 January, 1984 Apple released the first Macintosh computer, and with it the first Macintosh operating system - 1.0. Over the next few years Apple released subsequent updates of the software, increasing the numeral by approx 1 per year, reaching System 6 by early 1988.

System 6, which arguably was the pinnacle of the early Mac OS era, lasted for 4 years before finally being superceded by System 7 in 1991. Rather than simple revisions of previous versions, System 7 represented a major change to the way a Mac interacted with its human operatives. It reined for 6 years - when it was in turn replaced by System 8 - however unlike the last numeral change, System 8 was just going to be System 7.7 until Steve Jobs returned to Apple, and sought to shut down the Mac clone market - achieved via a legal loophole by renaming 7.7 into System 8.0.

Just 2 years later System 8 gave way to System 9, which again offered no major revision over its predecessors, but started to pave the way toward the Mac’s most revolutionary change - Mac OS X.

In 2001 Apple launched Mac OS X’s first official release - 10.0 “Cheetah”. The “System x” naming convention was replaced by “Mac OS X” - literally. This new operating system was the biggest leap seen on the Mac since its inception, both behind the scenes and at face value. Over the following 11 years, Apple released 8 updates, all named after big cats, before then releasing Mac OS 10.9 “Mavericks” in 2013 - named after a popular surf location. The naming departure however did not represent a huge difference in the OS itself, however having now reached 10.9, many expected the next release - surely “Mac OS XI” or 11.0, to offer a major revamp.

One year later in late 2014 Apple released Mac OS 10.10 “Yosemite”. Following the new naming trend of recreation locations, the new OS did not leap ahead to OS XI (ie OS 11), and did not leap ahead in style or function. 2015 and 2016 have similarly provided only “updates” to the Mac OS X model, not a game changer as seen by System 7, or the original OS X.

Back during the 90’s when System 7 was getting long in the tooth, Apple made several attempts to create a new OS for the Mac platform, however ultimately it was not until Steve Jobs returned that such breakthrough occurred. These attempts were - to some extent - public knowledge, with tidbits of information leaking out, and none of it well received, until Jobs stood in front of a crowd and extolled the virtues of a modern operating system.

Mac OS X has been in place now for nearly thrice the duration of System 7, and yet - has anyone heard any whispers of a new OS? Seriously - that’s the point of this thread! With iOS now seemingly given more attention than Mac OS (due fairly to the revenue streams that power Apple), many feel both the Mac and Mac OS have been left to languish. Features that have been created in recent years to offer some kind of added benefit to the user experience tend to be hit and miss. The potential to integrate the iOS and Mac OS experience seems to be poorly lacking, and those who favour Mac OS over the mobile platform fear such integration would result in a dumbing down of the Mac OS.

Are we ever going to see Mac OS XI? Will Apple skip the numbers and revamp the whole naming convention itself? Will iOS and MacOS unite into a single system? What is Apple doing over there in the mothership???




There will not be a new operating system until iOS and macOS merge. Eventually, we’ll end up with one central device, either on the cloud, or physically located inside our residence or workplace, and we’ll have multiple terminals. I’ll have my Apple TV sitting next to the 8K SMUHD LG TV set, the iPadBook Pro with large display and peripherals either to be used on the go or for my video editing, and my iPhone. But here’s the thing… they’ll all ACTUALLY be the same computer. They’ll just seem to be separate because they’ll all be wireless terminals running on the same OS. Not the same OS as in copies of the same OS on different machines, I mean literally the same copy of the same operating system.

We’re nowhere near that. And so it’s unnecessary to change the basic design of NeXT/OS X/macOS. I’m a video editor, that’s what made me switch in the first place, and I am a major, major creature of habit. I don’t like change to my editing work flow. It makes me deeply unhappy. I’ve been using Adobe Premiere since Mac OS9, I think, and I didn’t give up Premiere 6.x until Snow Leopard borked it. Then I didn’t give up on CS3 until I think… Mavericks maybe borked it? Now I’m on CS5 and deeply, deeply frightened of when an OS update will bork that or CS6, because I am totally opposed to the idea of paying monthly for an editing suite. I’ll shell out the hundreds or thousands gladly to have something for several years, even potentially more than a decade, but I won’t pay $20 a month in perpetuity.


I like the idea of a central processor controlling the operations on various devices in your house - multiple users, desktop/s, handheld/s, entertainment (ie multimedia boxes)… But Wifi is basically the only suitable communication method for such a system, as you can’t expect every user to be able to hardwire the devices - certainly not for a handheld - and there’s no way that a wifi network could sustain the data throughput for not only “data”, but actual OS code as well… (!?)

If that could be overcome, I don’t see why such a solution couldn’t work though - even potentially the 1 OS capable of providing different experiences on each different device - IE a master OS that gives you an iOS-like experience on your iPhone, AppleTV OS on AppleTV, and MacOS on a Mac…


Not yet. And I don’t think we’re going to be there anytime soon. That’s why people who complain about how this:

and this:

and this:

and definitely this:

are basically no different in theory than this:

…are missing the point that Windows, most Linux (mobile not withstanding), Solaris, and FreeBSD GUIs (including our own), OS/2 / eComStation, BeOS / Haiku, Syllable, etc use that same basic idea developed by Xerox PARC with Smalltalk on the Alto and the Star, and some of the in-house stuff in graphics already being done by Apple and others.

We haven’t done it differently until we needed to, and that was iOS and Android, both of which are distant cousins anyhow themselves! The GUI itself only changed (dropping the mouse), when we had touch technology and we interacted with our small hand held computers in ways distinctly different from how we used the computers on our desk or in our lap. My experience with my iPhone in 2008 was VERY different from my experience with my Mac Mini. Only recently, in the last couple of versions, mostly due to multi-touch on my trackpad, have I just begun to use some of the same physical gestures on my MacBook Pro that I do on my iPhone 6s. In truth, there’s still an awful lot, probably most activities, that I have a distinct preference for on one platform or the other. My transition isn’t seamless (I prefer Facebook in a browser on a full display with a mouse and keyboard, but I prefer Twitter on iPhone with finger usage), and I can’t edit dozens of tracks of video and audio on my iDevice, no matter how many damn times Cook and Co. tell me I can do it on a iPad Pro. No thanks. Not when I need this much space:

We won’t need a new desktop environment shift for many years.


I literally sent this message to some tech mates earlier this morning:

Says it all I think. Gosh I hope Apple don’t mess with OS X (sorry, macOS). It’s almost perfect as it is. Just release a new Mac Pro for me please so I can run 10.12! :slight_smile:


I swear I read that OSX was meant to be Apple’s thing for at least 20 years - so I’d say it will be around for a while.


This thread misses the point. OS X was something that had to happen based as a reaction to the monolithic system software which existed with nuts and bolts added on. All attempts to modernise the system software failed miserably because of the monolithic nature of the Mac OS system software.

We now have a portable and highly modular Unix system. Nothing inherently needs to change to the core system. In fact its the same core system that underpins iOS. This is a testament to its portability and modular nature.

There is nothing new that is needed at this point. When you compared the System software to the NT kernel it was obvious as daylight what each and every problem was with the classic Mac system and how much of a disaster the Copland alternative would have been.

What do Windows NT and OS X have in common? Not much really, except for one key element. A modular kernel that lets developers build support around it. At this point Windows NT is hardware agnostic, not in the same extent as a Unix based system but still.

If you look at the way that the classic OS did system management it was still at its core exactly the same way that Apple had intended the Mac to work in 1984, uneveolved and incredibly problematic. It couldn’t even handle dual processor machines without a hacked add on.


Was going to raise a new thread, but I guess this comment is appropriate here.

Do OS numbering systems even mean anything anymore?

iOS, WatchOS, tvOS are updated yearly, regardless of whether it’s a major update to the OS or a minor bump. And OS X was changed to Mac OS, and we have moved to a yearly update cycle, but we still stick to Mac OS 10.x rather than changing it to Mac OS 11 or later.

Let’s face it. OS numbering systems are more of a marketing term these days instead of a way of easily showing what version of the software you’re running. That’s why we end up with OSes that are called chocolate weeny insert your favourite food and or animal and or place here dessert thingy. Either Apple will surprise us all and come out with a total redesign of the desktop/laptop OS which will have some sort of fancy name, or more likely, we’ll see the long expected merging of iOS and macOS and the name macOS will disappear from the annals of history, only spoken of in hushed tones by selected acolytes. Personally, I blame millennials. But then I’m old. :wink: