A Brief History of macOS

macOS has quite an illustrious history. Here’s a quick recap from OS X through to Big Sur, and how the operating system has evolved over time and with the ever-onward march of technology.

Mac OS X 10.0

Codename: Cheetah
Date: March 24th, 2001

Steve Jobs famously said “We made the buttons on the screen look so good, you’ll want to lick them,” when describing the new Aqua User Interface with the release of Mac OS X. While we may not have licked them, they were certainly new, fresh and good to look at.

Mac OS X 10.1

Codename: Puma
Date: September 25th, 2001

Less of a functional update with Puma, and more of a performance enhancement. Puma introduced better handling of optical disc burning, file management and improved responsiveness throughout.

Mac OS X 10.2

Codename: Jaguar
Date: August 23rd, 2002

The release of Jaguar saw a new Apple logo, the large grey version, better search functionality, and Universal Access. iChat and the Address Book were also introduced with this version.

Mac OS X 10.3

Codename: Panther
Date: October 24th, 2003

We saw Safari becoming the default internet browser with the launch of Panther, alongside Exposé and some much-needed performance enhancements.

Mac OS X 10.4

Codename: Tiger
Date: April 29th, 2005

One of our favourite new versions of Mac OS X, this. Tiger was a hefty release with over 200 new features, including Apple TV, Spotlight and Dashboard.

Mac OS X 10.5

Codename: Leopard
Date: October 26th, 2007

Leopard was a long time coming, but when it did it brought with it one of the most impressive leaps in desktop technology. Time Machine, Boot Camp and full 64-bit support were all introduced in 2007’s OS.

Mac OS X 10.6

Codename: Snow Leopard
Date: August 28th, 2009

Another two years apart, and Snow Leopard brought us the Mac App Store, 64-bit apps and many more refinements that make it an excellent upgrade for those wanting more from their Macs.

Mac OS X 10.7

Codename: Lion
Date: July 20th, 2011

Apple adopts this whole cloud thing back in 2011, with the introduction of the iCloud alongside a number of refinements, performance enhancements and core OS improvements.

Mac OS X 10.8

Codename: Mountain Lion
Date: July 25th, 2012

Despite the fact that the world was set to end in 2012, it didn’t stop Apple from adding a lot of enhancements to 2011’s Lion. This is one of the first OS X versions to start integrating iOS perks.

Mac OS X 10.9

Codename: Mavericks
Date: October 22nd, 2013

The first OS X not to be named after a big cat, instead a surfing location in North California, Mavericks introduced Maps, iBooks, and iCloud Keychain encryption technology.

Mac OS X 10.10

Codename: Yosemite
Date: October 16th, 2014

Yosemite was an impressive upgrade, with a new sleek look and design that’s paved the way for better iOS and OS X interaction – which culminates eventually with Big Sur.

Mac OS X 10.11

Codename: El Capitan
Date: September 30th, 2015

Various improvements introduced with El Capitan, including dual-window functionality and Split Views alongside an upgraded Safari, Mail and other apps.

macOS 10.12

Codename: Sierra
Date: September 20th, 2016

Many see Sierra as the version that finally killed of OS X, since the OS is no longer referred to as Mac OS X, and is from this point on, known as macOS. Siri is introduced with this version and support for the Apple Watch.

macOS 10.13

Codename: High Sierra
Date: September 25th, 2017

High Sierra was more of a performance improvement rather than an upheaval of the apps. The main reason for the increase in speed in the OS is down to the use of the Apple Fie System and video standard HEVC.

macOS 10.14

Codename: Mojave
Date: September 24th, 2018

Dark Mode and Dynamic Desktop are the two main updates on everyone’s lips with the release of Mojave. Visual improvements aside, we also see some iOS apps being migrated across in the form of News, Home, Voice Memos and more.

macOS 10.15

Codename: Catalina
Date: October 7th, 2019

Catalina put the cat among the pigeons with Apple’s dropping of 32-bit apps. However, the move proved to be a good one in the long run, with better performance throughout.

Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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