It took almost nine years, but Apple Inc. was awarded a patent for the Mac OS X Dock Tuesday. Apple applied for the patent on December 20, 1999, and focused on the magnification feature in its abstract. The patent lists Bas Ording, Steve Jobs, and Donald Lindsay as the inventors.
From the patentis Abstract description: "To provide greater access and consolidation to frequently used items in the graphical user interface, a userbar is established which includes a plurality of item representations. To permit a greater number of items to reside in the userbar, a magnification function can be provided which magnifies items within the userbar when they are proximate the cursor associated with the graphical user interface."
Itis that focus on the magnification feature that is likely key to Apple being granted a patent. Mac OS Xis Dock was itself based on the NeXTSTEP Dock, which AppleInsider noted in its coverage of the patent was first introduced in 1989, well ahead of either the Taskbar of Windows and other docking metaphors used in various flavors of Unix and Linux.
The current dock in Mac OS X "Leopard" 10.5.5 includes a 3Dish perspective, a translucent tray, and other features that are different from the original Dock introduced with Mac OS X. It does, however, still include the magnification feature as demonstrated in the screenshot below.
The current Dock in Mac OS X "Leopard" 10.5.5.