Happy Birthday OS X!

Wow, hard to believe that 9 years has gone by already! On March 24th, 2001 the first commercial release of Apple’s “next generation” Unix based operating system hit the streets. OS X 10.0 was little more than a stable beta at the time as there were few native applications to tempt users to switch from the venerable OS 9. These days Apple’s OS X has reached the lofty release of 10.6.2, branded “Snow Leopard” – evoking its evolution from OS X 10.5 Leopard. Apple seems to have a thing about cats… but it wasn’t always that way.

Oddly, Apple’s first code name for the OS X Beta was Kodiak, inspired by the gargantuan Alaskan bear – nothing to do with cats at all. The cat code names began with the launch of OS X 10.0 on March 24, 2001. These names became so popular with the Mac community that Apple started using them in their branding starting with 10.2 Jaguar.

The following list shows the release dates for the various kittens in Apple’s litter, followed by the length of time between cats. As Mac OS X matures, notice how the subsequent releases are further apart, attesting to the increasing stability of the OS and a diminishing need to rush a “fix” out the door.

OS X PB (public beta) “Kodiak” – September, 2000
OS X 10.0 “Cheetah” – March, 2001 (6 months)
OS X 10.1 “Puma” – September, 2001 (7 months)
OS X 10.2 “Jaguar” – August, 2002 (11 months)
OS X 10.3 “Panther” – October, 2003 (14 months)
OS X 10.4 “Tiger” – April, 2005 (18 months)
OS X 10.5 “Leopard” – October, 2007 (30 months)
OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” – August, 2008

I’ve just finished writing OS Wars II: Rise of the Snow Leopard for Print Action Magazine and should have it posted within a couple of weeks, stay tuned.

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