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The history of OSx86 is a long and storied one, starting from its early roots as BSD, the Mach research project, Objective C and Display Postscript. This page attempts to create a definitive history for OSx86.


[edit] Early Days

OSx86 started its days as the Mach microkernel with BSD kernel processes, and retains this legacy today. This also explains the use of many Unix and BSD terms in the operating system, including daemons, the BSD subsystem, and the entire Terminal infrastructure. This key fact also makes OS X quite portable.

However, the history of OSx86 rapidly expands from here. The Mach Microkernel and some BSD guts along with Display Postscript from Adobe (instead of X windows) and the new Objective C programming language were forged into the NeXTSTEP operating system, a venture by Steve Jobs and former Apple Macintosh and Lisa engineers in the late 1980s. NeXTSTEP started on Motorola 68k and was interestingly later available for Sun SPARC, PA-RISC, and x86 platforms, continuing BSD's and NeXT's traditions of portability.

[edit] Rhapsody

It is here when OS X as we know it came into existence, at least, in a primitive form. After falling through with both IBM/Taligent's Pink and Be's BeOS, Apple settled on a new player to code its massive OS update for the 21st century, Steve Jobs. Bringing the NeXTSTEP code base with them, they quickly began work on a new version of MacOS, with the code name "Rhapsody". This contained a few interesting features: Yellow Box, a universal toolkit for OS coding based on NeXT's OPENSTEP API, Blue Box, a MacOS Classic emulation environment, and the rumored Red Box. Although Yellow Box's multiplatform support fell through, its influence is felt today in Mac OS X's Cocoa APIs.

However, the most important element of Rhapsody was once again its portability. Released publicly to developers in the form of DR1 and DR2 (DR standing for Developer Release), it was distributed in two forms -- PowerPC and x86.

A rather interesting sidenote: early (and possibly even later) versions of OS X guided you through post-install configuration to the tune of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," even though the Rhapsody project was killed off, OS X pays homage to it everytime someone starts up OS X for the first time. .

[edit] Marklar

This is where the classical history of Rhapsody ends, with codename "Marklar." Although it has never been publicly confirmed that this codename existed, it is rumored to have been the project to keep OS X for Intel in sync with PowerPC builds. Although it's obvious that these ports would not have been production quality, it's quite likely that these rough ports were maintained to reduce workload if, or as we now know, when, Apple decided to move to Intel.

[edit] OSx86

Finally, we reach modern day. OSx86 has been distributed through rented Developer Kits, which Apple has offered to paying ADC members. There have been 3 released builds, each of which begin to perfect the software and bring it up to speed with its sibling, OS X for PowerPC.

[edit] Timeline

  • 1977 - BSD offers its first release for PDP-11
  • 1989 - NeXTSTEP 1.0 released, based on the Mach microkernel & BSD
  • 1992 - NeXTSTEP 486 (3.0) released, adds support for x86
  • 1995 - Final verison of NeXTSTEP, 3.3, is released, supports 68k, x86, SPARC, and PA-RISC platforms
  • 1997 - Apple acquires NeXT Inc. and begins work on Rhapsody, releasing DP1 in September
  • 1998 - Apple updates Rhapsody with DP2
  • 1999 - Mac OS X Server is released, x86 support has strangely disappeared from Rhapsody, however is retained in the first version of the open source Darwin, released by Apple
  • 2000 - Mac OS X Public Beta 1 is released, once again, with no x86 support, this trend continues in OS X releases
  • 2000-2005 - Apple Developers maintain an Intel port of OS X, supposedly codenamed "Marklar"
  • 2005 - Apple announces the return of OS X on x86, with new Mac Intel boxes on the way. Apple releases multiple builds of OS X for Intel to developers owning Developer Transition Kits.
  • 2006 - Apple releases the first Intel based Macs, The iMac and the MacBookPro, which both use the Intel Core Duo processor. Shortly after, they release the Intel Mac mini, which uses either the Intel Core Solo or Core Duo processor. . .

[edit] Builds

These versions of Mac OS have been built for x86-based systems:

  • October 1992 - Apple completes a prototype for the Star Trek project, a port of System 7 to x86 machines.
  • September 1997 - Rhapsody Developers Release 1 (DR1) is distributed
  • 1998 - Rhapsody is updated to DR2
  • July 2005 - Apple ships Developer Transition Kits, loaded with Mac OS X 10.4.1
  • September 2005 - Mac OS X 10.4.2
  • October 2005 - Mac OS X 10.4.3
  • January 2006 - Mac OS X 10.4.4 is shipped with new Intel Macs, officially creating Mac OS for x86-based processors after 14 years in limbo
  • February 2006 - Mac OS X 10.4.5 Update is released and he improve some graphic errors in earlier versions. Maxxuss released article on how to update.

This page was last modified on 9 April 2011, at 23:07.
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