The Mysterious Lost Apple Operating System Disaster

Accessibility is a fundamental part of the modern IT landscape, and there have been few companies that have contributed more to the pursuit of accessibility and effective technical support than Apple.

Apple is one of the most important IT companies of all time. That has been true since the 1970s and continues to be the case to this day, albeit for very different reasons.

The company founded by the late Steve Jobs And the late Steve Wozniak has a long rich history of innovation, seen initially with the creation of early personal computers such as the Apple II and the Macintosh, the latter of which popularised the graphical desktop used in every office computer today. 

Over the past decade, they have continued to be ubiquitous in the office with business smartphones such as the iPhone and tablets such as the iPad regularly being used.

However, whilst Apple has given the IT world so much in terms of success, they have also provided some great lessons to learn through abject failure in their project management.

This was particularly true in the 1990s with the Apple Newton’s failed ambitions and the failure of Apple’s next great computer innovation in Copland.

After Microsoft Windows 95 revolutionised IT by making it more accessible and providing the template for modern office machines, Apple was worried that its focus on multitasking would show the weaknesses in the ageing Mac OS System 7, which still relied on hacks and tricks created in 1985.

Apple knew they needed to work on a successor, and so work began on what was to be System 8, its codename a tribute to the composer of Fanfare for the Common Man.

It was going to be a revolutionary new OS, complete with not only multitasking but also multi-user support, support for the PowerPC architecture, and integrated support for a wide range of Apple software, including QuickDraw, Java and similarly ill-fated OpenDoc platform.

This led to considerable feature creep to the point that the operating system was less a platform to run the computer and more of a collection of features largely unrelated to each other, and when developers finally had a chance to test it, it was infamously unreliable and limited.

Ultimately, Copeland helped create the modern office computer landscape in two ways. The first is in the form of the lesson of not adding too many features to a computer, especially since for business purposes many of these would be replaced with tools already used within the company.

The other way is more tangential. Apple opted to search externally for their next operating system, choosing to buy the company NeXT and their NeXTSTEP operating system, which would eventually release as Mac OS X.

The owner of NeXT was Steve Jobs, who would return to Apple as part of the process, becoming the CEO of his old company and radically transforming it into the industry giant we know today.

The modern macOS is often used in offices in creative industries such as video production and graphic design, and aspects of it would be used in iOS, the system that powers the vast majority of business smartphones.

File manager used to browse folders on computer. Exploring directories on hard drive. Document management system (DMS). Business data and process. Person working on laptop.

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