Although Apple Computer ushered in the PC revolution in 1980 with the Apple II computer, the inventions that are most synonymous with the company are the Macintosh computer and its ground-breaking graphical operating system, both released in 1984. Let's think of this operating system as Mac OS 1, though Apple wouldn't coin the term "Mac OS" to describe its operating system until the 1990s. The early Mac made its mark in a world where all other popular computer interfaces were obscure.
In the years following the Mac's release, much has changed. Both bad and good things have happened, and some company in Washington called Microsoft started to take over the world. By 1996, Apple knew it needed to modernize the Mac OS (and make it more worthy competition to Windows) from the bottom up, but previous attempts and partnerships to bring this about had ended in failure. So, Apple made an unusual move and purchased NeXT. This company had made a nice Unix-based operating system called NeXTSTEP, in which Apple saw the seeds of its own salvation. As it happened , NeXT's leader was the ambitious Steve Jobs, one of Apple's founders, who left the company after a political rift in the 1980s. To make a long and interesting story short, Jobs quickly seized control of Apple Computer, stripped it down to its essentials, and put all its resources into reinventing the Mac. Five years later, the result was Mac OS X: a computing platform based around an entirely new operating system that merged the best parts of the old Mac OS, NeXTSTEP, and nearly two decades of user feedback on the Mac OS.
Mac OS X initially may seem a little alien to long-time Mac users; it is, quite literally, an entirely different operating system from Mac OS 9 and earlier versions (even though Mac OS X retains most of its predecessor's important interface idioms, such as the way the desktop and the user interface works). However, the Mac is now winning more converts than ever, not just from Windows, but from other Unix systems such as Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD (from which Mac OS X's Unix core is derived).
Mac OS X brings all of the great things from earlier versions of the Mac OS and melds them with a BSD core, bringing Unix to the masses. Apple has created a rock-solid operating system to compete both on the user and enterprise level. In days gone by, the Mac was mostly looked at as a system for "fluffy- bunny designers." It's now becoming the must-have hardware and operating system of geeks and designers everywhere.
With Mac OS X, you can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. Your Mac can be used not only for graphic design and creating web pages, but also as a web server. Not into flat graphics? Fine, Mac OS X sports Quartz Extreme and OpenGL. Want to learn how to program? Mac OS X is a developer's dream, packing in Perl, Python, Ruby, C, C++, Objective-C, compilers, and debuggers ; if you're an X jockey, you can also run the X Window System on top of Mac OS X using Apple's X11 distribution or with other installations of XFree86. In addition to the standard programming languages, Mac OS X comes with a powerful set of frameworks for programming with Cocoa, Mac OS X's native language (adopted from NeXT).