Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell for Macworld

An act of desperation 20 years ago was the building block for the modern Mac

To understand the desperation Apple felt in the mid-to-late 1990s, look no further than to one particular t-shirt. On the front was a 3-D rendered numeral eight. On the back, the words “Hands-On Experience” and Mac OS 8 logo.

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June 1996, many of us got to experience the future of the Mac for the first time. We got the t-shirt for test driving Apple’s transformational new operating system, one that replaced the woefully out-of-date classic Mac OS with something that could compete with Microsoft. The operating system was nicknamed Copland and it never shipped. The “Hands-On Experience” shirts and an accompanying book, “Mac OS 8 Revealed,” were as good it was ever going to get.

With its back against the wall and its internal software development failing, Apple was left with only desperation moves. Fortunately, it made a good one, resulting in Mac OS X 10.0, which shipped 20 years ago this week.

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