Mac operating systems come in a number of versions. Unlike the Windows family of operating systems however as soon as a new operating system is introduced by Apple the old version is withdrawn from general sale. Apple mac’s were originally based on a Power PC processor but have now changed to an Intel Processor. OSX 10.0 – 10.3 are for Power PC only. OSX 10.4 and OSX 10.5 will run on both Power PC and Intel. From OSX 10.6 onwards the OS is Intel Only.
There are a number of version from OS1 to OS9 which are not really used anymore.
The currently versions you will most likely see new are OS10 or OSX as it is often reffered to as. OSX comes in a number of revisions:
Mac OS X v10.0 “Cheetah” – March 24, 2001
Mac OS X v10.1 “Puma” – September 25, 2001
Mac OS X v10.2 “Jaguar” – August 24, 2002
Mac OS X v10.3 “Panther” – October 24, 2003
Mac OS X v10.4 “Tiger” – April 29, 2005
Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard” – October 26, 2007
Mac OS X v10.6 “Snow Leopard” – August 28, 2009
Mac OS X v10.7 “Lion” – July 20, 2011
Mac OS X v10.8 “Mountain Lion” – July 25, 2012
Mac OS X v10.9 “Maverick” – Launch date to be announced
OSX Is based on the Mach kernel which was developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Apple wrote an OS called Darwin which was released as open source in 2000. OSX is basically Darwin with a number of components layered ontop. Darwin was in turn based on codee from NeXTSTEP, BSD and several other open source linux/unix variants. If you want to read more about darwin wikipedia have an article here
All new Apple hardware is currently being sold with Lion. Futher information on the OSX range can be found in the following wikipedia article mac_OS_X
The main changes in OSX were
10.0 (Cheetah) – First retail release to include the “aqua” interface. Lots of features such as dvd playback were missing.Suffered from a lot of “kernal panics” fixed in later updates
10.1 (Puma) – Released as a free upgrade from 10.0 or as a paid upgrade from os9.
10.2 (Jaguar) – Lots of new features and improvements. Included “ichat” for the first time. The “happy mac” Happy apple mac picture was replaced by the now familiar Grey apple logo.
10.3 (Panther) – extensive updates to the user interface including an improved finder. Support dropped for some early G3 computers such as “wallstreet” powerbooks and beige power macs.
10.4 (Tiger) – Seperate versions for Intel and Powerpc machiens. Only powerpc is supported by retail tiger dvd’s . Lots of new features. Intel version dropped support for “classic” envoironment. Tiger server 10.4.7 would boot both Intel and powerpc mac’s.
10.5 (Leopard) – Support dropped for G3 processor and minimum spec of G4 867mhz and 512Mb of ram introduced. Over 300 new features including bootcamp and time machine. All support for classic envoironment and classic appliactions dropped. Final version of osx to support install on powerpc.
10.6 (Snow Leopard) – Microsoft exchange server support for mail, ical and address book. Improved support for dual core processors. Mac app store support added in a later update. Mainly perfomance, stability and efficiency improvements to Leopard. Snow Leopard requires an Intel cpu and 1GB or ram.
10.7 (Lion) – Dropped all Powerpc support. Interface improvements. Now delivered as a download from apple store (itunes) rather than a physical dvd.
10.8 (Mountain Lion) – Will incorporate many features from iOS 5 (mobile os used on iphones, ipads etc). Full support for icloud. Improved chinese suppurt including baidu as an option for search engine in safari. (not yet released so some features may change)
10.9 (Maverick) – Includes a lot of IOS functions although a new version of IOS (7) was also released so the two systems haven’t merged as was expected by a lot of the industry.
10.10 (Yosemite) – An update to Mavericks with a lot mre ‘cloud’ services built in.
Other Operating systems for Apple Mac
Besides OSX other operating systems including many versions of Linux will run on Apple hardware. In fact the current Intel based Apple macintosh computers will also natively run most versions of Microsoft windows.