Happy Birthday: Mac OS X Turns Nine

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Mac OS X 10.0It seems appropriate to us to offer Mac OS X a birthday shoutout, as it was on this day in 2001 that Apple officially shipped Mac OS X 10.0. After a multi-month public beta, Apple released the final version on a Saturday, with small-scale events at its CompUSA Stores-within-a-Store.

Remember CompUSA? That company is gone, but it served as a testing ground for what would eventually become Apple’s own fleet of Apple Store retail locations, where product launches regularly include special events.

Mac OS X was built off of NeXTSTEP, the operating system developed by NeXT, the company Steve Jobs founded after being ousted from Apple. When then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio bought NeXT in order to get a foundation for a next-generation OS to replace the original Mac OS (then at OS 9), he also got Steve Jobs as an advisor, which eventually led to Mr. Amelio’s own ouster and replacement by Steve Jobs.

Several years of development later, Apple released a Mac OS X Public Beta for US$29.95 in September of 2000. As mentioned above, that was followed by the release of Mac OS X 10.0 on March 24th, 2001, which makes our favorite operating system nine years old.

Happy Birthday!

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Dave Hamilton

And if we trace its roots, Mac OS X is even older than that. Programmers have been coding for NeXTSTEP since its release in 1989, giving Objective C a 21 year history on this particular computing platform and Framework style (and is the reason that most—if not all—Mac OS X cocoa classes start with “NS”—it’s short for NeXTSTEP and lives on even through today).

Of course, we can trace Unix back 41 years to 1969 (though not the particular flavor used by Mac OS X—That’s the “Mach” and has its roots dating back to the same time period that NeXTSTEP was born, maybe predating it by a few years).


Laurie Fleming

Nine years - hasn’t it just sped by? And of course, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. Well do I remember the threads of the time, including this one: How much time do you spend in 9? in 10? http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/forums/viewthread/578/

Bryan Chaffin

Ah, nice find, Laurie. I even remember that thread now that you’ve pointed it out. smile

It’s funny to think about all the angst concerning Mac OS X in retrospect. smile


uh-oh, I STILL spend time in OS9. (and not just to rhyme)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I boot into 9
to use Illustrator 7

(I told you it wasn’t to rhyme! smile )


It?s funny to think about all the angst concerning Mac OS X in retrospect.

I seem to remember lots of wringing of hands about how to shut it down (Oh No, You got rid of the Special Menu) and how to Quit programs (Quit is not under File?!?. I’m lost!). Now if I run an ancient system with 7, 8, 9 on it I have to try to remember how to do things. X seems natural.

Nice find Laurie. The 3rd or 4th post by iBrotha brought back some fond memories too.

Bryan Chaffin

Yeah, Geoduck, I remember being personally concerned about the Apple menu being moved (ZOMG!!). I got over it quickly enough. smile

And may Rodney rest in peace. I miss him. Greatly.  Thanks for pointing that out, Geoduck.

Jim McGowan

Wow, can’t believe it has been 9 years since I first looked at that new Macintosh HD icon and thought ‘Wow!’

A couple of corrections though: when Apple acquired NexT in 1996, the current version of the Mac OS still System 7 (7.6 IIRC), not 9.  The increment to 8 the following year, and the name changing of ‘System’ to ‘OS’, was a device to end the OS licensing with the Clone Manufacturers.  It wasn’t quite the same major update as we now see between version of OS X.  Likewise, I’m pretty sure the version number increment to OS 9 was just to pave the way for the new OS to be called 10, as it wasn’t all that different from 8.6!


Back then, all that talk of the changeover to UNIX & it’s variants over the years brought me to this spot on the internet. It (still) helps put it into perspective.


Seems to me that CompUSA is still around.  Apple won’t them sell their PCs anymore but there are several CompUSAs in my area.

Whoever says CompUSA is gone certainly hasn’t read much of the business press lately.

Dave Hamilton

Seems to me that CompUSA is still around.? Apple won?t them sell their PCs anymore but there are several CompUSAs in my area.

Whoever says CompUSA is gone certainly hasn?t read much of the business press lately.

Actually, the company that was CompUSA is definitely gone.

The new CompUSA that’s being willed from the grave (and blended with Circuit City) by Systemax/TigerDirect is quite different than the one with which Apple was involved years ago. Indeed, the brand name is back with some test stores in Florida, I believe, and plans for more, but it’s not the same company.

Who knows… perhaps it will fare better than the original did?


Re CompUSA:  When I retired in 2002 I received a $200 gift card to CompUSA. Since the nearest store was about 15 miles away it was a bit inconvenient compared to online shopping with free delivery. So I put the card aside waiting for the day when I would be going in that direction.

Years passed and I read that they were going out of business so I thought I’d better use the card quickly. Of course now I couldn’t find it. Money lost, I figured. Then a year or so later I came across the card and saw that CompUSA was revived in the South and had a presence online. Well, I visited the site and lo and behold they had a page for people who had old gift cards. I sent them the number and necessary info and a couple weeks later I received a check for $200.

Pretty cool, huh?


I met Rodney a couple of times years ago at a MicroCenter in Minneapolis. A great writer, and a true gentleman. I still miss his columns and presence here. Thanks for the memories.

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