Are you interested in Apple devices? Wish to know a little of the history and the possibility of using a macOS or iOS device can enhance your business or may be your productivity? Well this article is for you.
We cover the top ten features of Mac, look at networking your Mac, synching your Apple devices, and finally the development of the Mac operating system and a few tips along the way. So let’s begin with the top 10 features of a Mac.
A small thing, first introduced in System 7.5 (see later in this article about 7.5). Stickies are virtual post-it notes, and free with every Mac. My only complaint is that Stickies can’t sync across Macs and iOS devices. Although Notes fit a similar purpose and does sync, I prefer Stickies.
If you want to export Stickies into Notes, open Stickies, and File from the menu bar, and then Export all to Notes.
A small thing perhaps, but for Steve Jobs a revolution. Let’s go to a quote;
“I remember, painfully well, the early days of computers when we had monospace fonts on screen, before WYSIWYG and all that,” he says. “And what Jobs did with the Macintosh was not just revolutionise digital typography—that would have happened sooner or later. The unique thing he brought to it was the democratisation of digital type.”
Thomas Phinney, a senior product manager for fonts and typography with Extensis.
Fonts are still very important the Mac. A Mac has an inbuilt utility called Font Book. Using Font Book you can install new fonts and equally importantly manage and categorise them
Networking between PC and Mac
Often network administrators are concerned that Mac and PC existing on the same network.
Macs and PC’s can both use a networking protocol called SMB to share files and folder.
The build quality of Apple devices is superb, it could be argued that the cost of Apple device comes at a premium. However you have weigh this against the longevity of Apple device, and Apple are superb in ensuring your device is supported with macOS and iOS updates for as long that is reasonably possible.
The Mac and Apple community is a very active one, once you made the step to being a Mac user, you will have plenty of support.
Seamless synchronisation across Mac, iPhone, iPad and iCloud
The seamless integration between macOS and iOS is fantastic, and that synchronised can be applied to iCloud (Apple’s paid Cloud service, although up to 5GB of storage is free. Perfect syncing your contacts, calendar, documents, photo’s and keychain.
Both Apple and Google do an excellent job of storing your passwords, for Google you have to use Chrome and Apple Safari. There are pros and cons to this password saving functionality. The key never let one know your login password.
If however you struggle to remember your password for different sites then Keychain can be a real help, however unlike like Chrome Keychain can remember passwords for a variety of Apple services such network connections.
World class creative platform
The Mac is often associated with the media and artistic industry. Such as Apple produced such as Final Cut Pro (film editing), Motion (3D graphics), and Logic Pro X (music editing).
There are many third party apps available, too many to mention, this article is written using Scrivener, professional app for writers.
When is a Mac not a Mac? When it’s a Windows computer. Boot Camp isn’t really virtualisation software, it allows the computer to install Windows 10 on your Mac and boot into it as a separate partition, essentially turning your Mac into a PC. Two computers for the price of one!
Later on in this article we’ll look at the development of macOS, if you’re interested in looking at macOS 8 or 9 a utility called SheepShaver is available for free to allow you to virtualise an older OS for Mac. Something to do at the weekends.
All Apple devices are renowned for their security; Mac, iPad and iPhone.
Apple are very active in releasing security updates, almost on a weekly basis and are critical to ensuring your Apple device and your network is a secure as it can be.
It is possible to purchase an anti-virus utility for a Mac, but the question of how valuable it is questionable as the in order to run an antivirus it needs to open up your Mac, so if a hacker hacks the antivirus software, then they have access to a very deep level into your computer.
The key thing is to run every available security update for your macOS and iOS device as soon as they are available.
The Evolution of the Macintosh Operating System
System 1 to 7 and Mac OS 8 & 9, macOS (X)
The most amazing thing about the Mac OS is it is taken for granted. Before the Macintosh Operating System, the user interacted with their computers using the command line prompt, which is it has to said is very quick but very dull.
The Macintosh introduced the Graphical User Interface, with Windows, a cursor operated by a mouse and a whole new concept of interacting with your computer.
Most of the concepts were borrowed from Xerox after a visit by Steve Jobs and Mac team in 1979. After some stock option dealing, these original concepts developed for the Xerox Alto, plus Apple’s own innovations of the menu bar, pop-up menus and click and drag, created the Mac OS – or System Software as it then was called.
When a computer boots it runs through a few basic routines. Including POST (power on self test) and BIOS (basic input output services). These are held in the computers ROM or Read Only Memory.
The original Mac ROM was 8 times larger than its IBM PC contemporary using 64kb and held some of the key components of the operating system. The majority of this ROM coding was programmed by Andy Hertzfeld. Three other key members of the operating system team were Susan Kare who designed the graphical icons for the OS and Steve Capps and Bruce Horn who wrote the Finder.
In charge of the whole Mac project was Apple legend Jef Raskin, also key to the development of Mac software was Bill Atkinson who designed the Mac interface, also creator of MacWrite and HyperCard.
Here’s what Dan Vanderkam (a great expert on OS 1.0) says about Mac OS 1:
“On your first sweep through this [OS 1]screenshot, there are probably a few things you noticed. Here’s what they probably are:
• If you look closely, you see that the lines on the trash can go the opposite way that they do in system 7.
• There aren’t any zoom boxes
• There’s a folder called “Empty Folder”
• There’s no “Label” menu
• The open disk’s icon has the “open” look, but its icon has no border.
• The open window has a program, a document, and a SYSTEM FOLDER, and only uses 196K!”
Dan also show’s us a screen shot of the Apple menu, which at that time only contained Alarm Clock, Choose Printer, Control Panel, Key Caps and Scrapbook.
There is also a screen shot of ‘About Finder’ and the application is credited to Bruce Horn and Steve Capps, version 1.1. As of writing (April 2007) we are are on Finder version 10.4.7, and credits only Apple Computer Inc. Which is interesting because as we know Apple Computer Inc. no longer exists. Today we are also told that Finder is, I quote, “The Macintosh Desktop Experience”!
An interesting site to visit that documents both the history and events that happened at this time is http://www.folklore.org. The authors of this site include Andy Hertzfeld and Bruce Horn among others.
OS 1 could only support one folder and no sub folders beneath it. On the desktop of OS 1 there is a folder called Empty Folder. To create a new folder you renamed Empty Folder and pressed enter, magically a new empty folder appeared!
The first Mac OS was released in 1984 (note the significance of the date – 1984 wont be like 1984!) version 1 and version 2 of Mac OS used the Macintosh File System. As I’ve said this file system only allowed Folders but no sub-folders within them. Another restriction was only one Application could run properly at once.
System 2 – 5
The progress of the Mac Operating System saw new features with new versions – some of them were;
System 2.1 saw a new File System – Hierarchical File System or HFS, which gave us a true hierarchical method of organising our files and sub-files – hence the name!
System 3 and 4 gave us SCSI and AppleTalk support – plus the bulging Waste Paper basket!
System 5 introduced co-operative multitasking, or MultiFinder. You could now run more than one application at a time!
System 6 saw the Mac OS really become a mature operating system by bundling all the updates and fixes from previous incarnations of Apple Macintosh System Software into one solid and stable platform.
“It’s more elegant and user-friendly than any other operating system ever made.
It is more inspiring for creative people than any other operating system ever made.
It’s nicer and easier to work with than any other operating system ever made.”
System 6 Heaven
System 7 was the last of ‘systems’, the next incarnation of the Operating System would be Mac OS 8, which also saw Steve Job’s second coming.
System 7 introduced;
- 32 bit operating system support
- Apple Script
- True Type
and finally Trash that didn’t automatically empty itself when you closed down the computer!
Mac OS 8
Mac OS 8 – the operating system that never was…
Actually OS 8 was a OS 7 upgrade re-branded so Steve Jobs could take advantage of a legal loop hole that allowed him to drop support for non-Mac computers running the Mac Operating System.
Mac OS 8 offered interface skins and a few other improvements, but more importantly introduced HFS plus file system – the file system we still used in OS X, until MacOS 10.13
In 1998 an Apple engineering t-shirt declared that Mac OS 8.5 ‘sucks less’ than Mac OS 8!
It was at this time in Apple’s history that the Apple we know today was really born. In 1996 Apple lost $740 million dollars in one financial quarter. In 1997 Apple laid off 2700 employees. In that same year Microsoft invested $150 million dollars to keep Apple a float. And in that same year, Steve Jobs returns to Apple, and we start to think different.
With Apple’s newly acquired operating system from Next Computers, the ground work for OSX is established. The code name for OSX was Rhapsody.
Mac OS 9
But Mac classic has one last trick up its sleeve before it bit the dust – and that is OS 9.
Mac OS 9 released on October 23, 1999 was a steady evolution of the Mac OS.
In OS 9 we see;
- Multi-user support
- Mac OS update
- Better memory handling
- and better USB support
Mac OS 9 is what you see when you boot into Mac Classic within OS X (last supported Mac OS for this is Mountain Lion, and an older Mac).
The evolution from OS1 to OS9 was a gradual one, If you look at the screen shots of OS 1 compared to OS 9, it is very obviously the same beast.
OS X – a new beginning
Mac OS X was first released in 2001. Based on NeXT, which in turn was based on the UNIX platform, OS X offered a radical departure from the previous iterations of the OS. Apple purchased NeXT in 1997 for $429 million (equivalent to $640 million in 2016), and 1.5 million shares of Apple stock. As part of the agreement, Steve Jobs, Chairman and CEO of NeXT Software, returned to Apple, the company he co-founded in 1976.
The software from NeXT together with Apple’s hardware platforms, eventually resulted in macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS. Parts of these operating systems incorporated the OPENSTEP foundation.
NeXT was available for both PPC and Intel chip sets, in the same way OS X transitioned away from the old PPC architecture to Intel, allowing users to run both OS X and Windows.
To quote ArsTechnica;
“In the 1990s, Apple struggled to bring the original Mac OS—originally written in 1984 for the resource-constrained Macintosh 128K machine—up to modern operating system standards. The story of how OS X came to be is thrilling in its own right, but suffice it to say that Apple ended up buying Steve Jobs’ second computer company, NeXT, and using its NeXTSTEP operating system as the basis of a new generation of Macs.
Apple announced the acquisition of NeXT on December 20, 1996, noting it wanted NeXT’s object-oriented software development technology and its operating system know-how. As part of the deal, Jobs came back to Apple, eventually taking over as CEO and making the company into the consumer electronics giant it is today. Sixteen [as of writing this 2018, 22 years] years later, several technologies developed or championed by NeXT still survive in OS X and in its mobile cousin, iOS.” – ArsTechnica
Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah shared many of the features of the NeXT OS, most notably the Dock, or BookShelf as in Next.
Originally the releases of OS X were named after big cats;
- Mac OS X Public Beta
- Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah
- Mac OS X 10.1 Puma
- Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar
- Mac OS X 10.3 Panther
- Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger
- Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
- Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
- Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
- OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
It’s interesting to note the change in name, from Mac OS X to OS X with the release of Mountain Lion. Another change happened with the release of Mavericks, named after surfing location in Northern California. Following Mavericks, subsequent releases used Californian related locations:
- OS X 10.9 Mavericks
- OS X 10.10 Yosemite
- OS X 10.11 El Capitan
- macOS 10.12 Sierra
- macOS 10.13 High Sierra
- MacOS 10.14 MojaveAgain we have another naming convention change with Sierra, dropping the OS X moniker and moving to macOS.
As the evolution from OS1 to OS9 was a gradual one, Mac OS 10.0 to 10.8 has been the same. The biggest changes have been the price (£99 in the UK) to free, delivery method (online download from the App store, although I sort of miss driving to my local Apple Store to buy the disc), and more recently with High Sierra new file system. Since System 8, the Mac has used the HFS+ file system. The new Apple File System (APFS) that comes with 10.13 makes life with your favourite OS a lot faster.
To quote Apple;
“macOS is the operating system that powers every Mac. It lets you do things you simply can’t do with other computers. That’s because it’s designed specifically for the hardware it runs on — and vice versa. macOS comes with an entire suite of beautifully designed apps. It works hand in hand with iCloud to keep photos, documents and other stuff up to date on all your devices. It makes your Mac work like magic with your iPhone. And it’s been built from the ground up with privacy and security in mind.” – Apple
Hopefully reading this current and to some what historical look at macOS and iOS will give you an in-depth understanding of what the world of macOS and iOS is all about and how the Apple platform can benefit your business.