Mac OS - Versions

Versions

Early versions of Mac OS were compatible only with Motorola 68000-based Macintoshes. As Apple introduced computers with PowerPC hardware, the OS was ported to support this architecture. Mac OS 8.1 was the last version that could run on a "68K" processor (the 68040). OS X, which has superseded the "Classic" Mac OS, is compatible with only PowerPC processors from version 10.0 ("Cheetah") to version 10.3 ("Panther"). PowerPC and Intel processors are supported in version 10.4 ("Tiger", Intel only supported after an update) and version 10.5 ("Leopard"). 10.6 and later versions support only Intel processors.

The early Macintosh operating system initially consisted of two pieces of software, called "System" and "Finder", each with its own version number. System 7.5.1 was the first to include the Mac OS logo (a variation on the original Happy Mac startup icon), and Mac OS 7.6 was the first to be named "Mac OS".

Before the introduction of the later PowerPC G3-based systems, significant parts of the system were stored in physical ROM on the motherboard. The initial purpose of this was to avoid using up the limited storage of floppy disks on system support, given that the early Macs had no hard disk (only one model of Mac was ever actually bootable using the ROM alone, the 1991 Mac Classic model). This architecture also allowed for a completely graphical OS interface at the lowest level without the need for a text-only console or command-line mode. Boot time errors, such as finding no functioning disk drives, were communicated to the user graphically, usually with an icon or the distinctive Chicago bitmap font and a Chime of Death or a series of beeps. This was in contrast to computers of the time, which displayed such messages in a mono-spaced font on a black background, and required the use of the keyboard, not a mouse, for input. To provide such niceties at a low level, Mac OS depended on core system software in ROM on the motherboard, a fact that later helped to ensure that only Apple computers or licensed clones (with the copyright-protected ROMs from Apple) could run Mac OS.

Mac OS can be divided into two families:

  • The Mac OS Classic family, which was based on Apple's own code
  • The OS X operating system, developed from Mac OS Classic family, and NeXTSTEP, which was UNIX-based.

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Famous quotes containing the word versions:

    The assumption must be that those who can see value only in tradition, or versions of it, deny man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
    Stephen Bayley (b. 1951)