By: Mike Yocom - Revised: 2006-06-01 devin

The Macintosh provided the world with the first computer affordable by average people that used a Graphical User Interface (GUI). UNIX is a standard operating system on mainframes and within research centers because of its robust resource management, open source nature, and availability on a wide range of hardware. Mac OS X combines both of these to produce an operating system that is robust, but also easy to use.

The GUI has a long history even before the Macintosh. Although the Macintosh has been available for twenty years — January 24th, 2004 is the twentieth anniversary — there were actually three GUI-equipped computers that predate the Mac — The Xerox Alto, the Xerox Star, and the Apple Lisa.

UNIX has been available since 1970, and UNIX variants began appearing by the late seventies. But, the ideas that lead to UNIX extend back to 1965. The two UNIX variants important to Mac OS X are the Berkeley System Distribution (BSD) — which helped create the precursor of the Internet — and Mach — which is possibly the most widely-used UNIX variant as the foundation for a number of operating systems.

Mac OS X combines the robust resource management of UNIX with the ease of use of the Macintosh, and adds in a number of powerful technologies uniquely its own.