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Mace & Crown | September 26, 2017

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A History of Operating Systems

Audra Reigle | Technology Editor

A common factor between smartphones and computers is the use of an operating system. While the operating systems for cell phones and computers are different, both types of devices still use them. We’re going to take a look at the history of some well-known operating systems and see where they are today.

Mac OS is the product of Apple, and it is typically seen on their line of computers. The first version of Mac OS, Mac System 1.0, was launched in 1984, according to Business Insider. This version of Mac OS introduced overlapping windows, “With the active window appearing on top,” and a text editor, among other features.

Color support was added to third-party apps in Mac OS System 6.0, which launched in 1988, but the Finder remained in black and white until Mac OS System 7.0 was released in 1991. Mac OS X had versions named after wild cats, such as Cheetah and Mountain Lion, and it saw a visual overhaul that gave it the appearance similar to what we see today. The next version of Mac OS, High Sierra, will launch in the fall, according to The Next Web.
The first version of Windows, named Windows 1, was launched in November 1985, according to The Guardian. When Windows 3 launched in 1990, it was “the first Windows that required a hard drive.” Windows 95, which launched in 1995, introduced the Start button and Start menu. Windows saw visual overhauls with Windows XP, Vista and 8.

“Windows XP was the longest running Microsoft operating system, seeing three major updates and support up until April 2014,” according to The Guardian. Today, we have Windows 10, which has a version geared towards students, Windows 10 S, that will launch on PCs this summer, according to a Microsoft event held May 2.
Windows operating systems also appear on cell phones. The Pocket PC ran on Windows CE OS, and it was one of the earliest renditions of Windows on cell phones, launching in 2000, according to Mashable. The HTC Surround and Samsung Focus were the first phones to run Windows Phone 7 OS, and they launched in November 2010. Microsoft is planning to reboot their Windows phones, according to Windows Central.
Apple also has their own operating system for mobile devices in iOS. The first version of iOS, known as iPhone OS 1, was announced in 2007 alongside the iPhone, according to Gizmodo. While apps were available on iPhone OS 1, it wasn’t until iPhone OS 2 that third-party app support was added.

The mobile OS was renamed from iPhone OS to iOS with iOS 4, and it ran on Apple’s iPods, iPhones and iPads. FaceTime was also introduced in iOS 4. Digital assistant Siri was introduced with iOS 5, and Siri was opened to third-party developers with the release of iOS 10. iOS 11 is slated for launch this fall, according to Business Insider.
Android is another mobile operating system, and it is also the biggest competitor to Apple’s iOS. All versions of Android are named after sweet treats. One of the earliest versions of Android was Donut, which introduced the Quick Search Box, according to Android.

Eclair allowed users to receive voice guidance from Google Maps and make use of speech-to-text. Honeycomb put the Home, Back and Menu buttons on-screen, eliminating the physical buttons, and it became tablet-friendly. Jelly Bean allowed for multiple user support on tablets. Phones got multiple user support with the launch of Lollipop.

KitKat introduced the voice assistant, allowing users to say “Ok Google” to “launch voice search, send a text, get directions or even play a song.” Marshmallow allowed users to have control over what information their apps had access to through permissions. Android O is slated for launch later this summer, according to the Google I/O Conference held May 17-19.
There’s a lot more technology out there than just operating systems for cell phones and computers. It’s also worth noting that Windows and Mac OS aren’t the only operating systems for computers. Linux is another example of an operating system for a computer.

However, Windows and Mac OS are perhaps the most well-known among the typical consumer that isn’t heavily invested in technology, just as Android and iOS are the most well-known operating systems for smartphones. It will be interesting to see where all operating systems go in the future.