January 11, 2006
Apple is shepherding the Mac and its legions of software developers through yet another major transition — this one nearly as momentous as the shift to OS X. Once again, the centerpiece of the change lies in the microprocessor at the heart of the Mac.
If one thing dominates the technical history of Apple Computer, it’s transitions. The most recent example: the shift from Apple’s old operating system OS 9 to OS X.
It was like starting all over again with a completely new computer.
And software that Mac users had come to rely on — from publishing programs like Quark XPress and Adobe’s Photoshop, to more general-use software like Microsoft’s Office and Qualcomm’s Eudora e-mail program — all needed updating to run in a radically different environment.
That changeover dominated the Mac landscape in 2001 and 2002. Apple chief Steve Jobs went so far as to hold a mock funeral for the outgoing operating system at a developers’ conference in 2002, making his point by lugging a coffin on stage.
A Legion of Change
Other notable transitions include the move to System 7 in 1991 and the changeover that began in 1994 from Motorola 68K semiconductors to the PowerPC line of chips from IBM, Motorola, and the company that’s now Freescale Semiconductor.
Now, Apple is shepherding the Mac and its legions of software developers through another transition — this one nearly as momentous as the shift to OS X. And once again the centerpiece of the change lies in the microprocessor at the heart of the Mac. The PowerPC chips will soon find themselves supplanted by chips from Intel.
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