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OS X UI, where did it originate from?

By H3llion
Oct 24, 2012
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  1. I heard somewhere on these forums that the OSX UI originated from some other OS at which point Apple has improved it visually.

    Is this true and if so what was the original OS that had very similar UI to the 'Aqua' UI?
  2. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,525   +300

    NeXT I believe.. I'll fact check in a bit.

    Update - don't know. I know a lot of OS X came from NeXT and their OS. But a GIS doesn't show much similarity between it and OS X aside from a pseudo-dock. The menu bar at the top that has been in all OS X versions originated with the original Macintosh OS though.

    I also know that things like the dropdown folders originated in Mac OS 7 or perhaps OS 8 (I used Macs between System 6 and Mac OS 8.5, then again between OS X 10.3 and now).

    Extra Update - Here you go, this is a pretty good page with the history - http://appleinsider.com/articles/07/10/08/road_to_mac_os_x_leopard_finder_10_5

    So, what you heard is partially true. But OS X's GUI is mainly just an evolution of the original Macintosh OS (which they called System whatever until Mac OS 8 - ie system 6, system 7).

    There is a whole mess with Xerox, but I'm going to stay out of that here, its been hashed out and rehashed all over the web with probably every potential argument possible made for the many sides involved. Google will be your friend for that.
  3. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 968   +99

    Thank you very much, really appreciate it since I was looking for this past couple of days.
  4. crimsonRE

    crimsonRE TS Rookie

    Indeed, OS X is a direct lineal descendent of NextStep, bought in 1996 by Apple, thus bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple. The GUI itself looks more like old MacOS - BUT actual development of OS X programs used the process as programming in NextStep, with Objective C, Project Builder, etc etc. (though this has changed a bit in recent years with the versions of XCode). And, of course, underneath the GUI the actual OS is UNIX with the CMU Mach microkernal, just as in NextStep...

    Now, the NS (NextStep) UI did/does use a menu bar at the top left of the screen for each app, and the Dock indeed originated here (default placement was along the left side of the screen, though).

    This ancestry also explains how Apple was able to swap OS X from the PPC to Intel processor architecture so quickly - NextStep was developed to run on Motorola 68k, Intel x86, Sun SPARC, and HP PA-RISC processors! From ProjectBuilder one could produce so-called "Fat" packages that included executables for all 4 architectures (& you could strip the unneeded ones later to save disk space). So they continued to keep it running on at least the x86's as well as PPC as it evolved from NextStep through Rhapsody to OS X.

    I have several NeXT cubes & slabs and SPARCstation 5 & 20 machines still running...
  5. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 6,942   +899

    isnt it built on unix?
  6. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,306   +265

    FreeBSD actually
    jobeard likes this.


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