Mac OS X celebrates its tenth birthday today. The groundbreaking operating system was introduced to the public on March 24, 2001. Mac OS X helped reverse Apple’s fortunes in the desktop PC market, and has underpinned a lot of Apple’s subsequent success. Most importantly, it spawned iOS, which runs today’s iPads and iPhones.
Below is the story of how OS X’s game-changing interface came about. The story gives some insight into corporate creativity at Apple. OS X’s interface started as a side project. But as soon as Steve Jobs got wind of it, it was fast-tracked. Jobs became intimately involved in its development — a scary prospect for the programmers working on it.
But the struggle wasn’t just in its development. Apple had to nail the switch from the old Mac OS to the new, or it could have sunk the company. Guess which ally was crucial to the transition — Apple’s old enemy, Microsoft.
With the launch of OS X, Jobs finally took the title of Apple’s permanent CEO. Prior to that he’d been the interim CEO, or iCEO, and OS X was the last major part of the company he needed to fix.