Mac OS X arrived 20 years ago today – here's how it's changed since then

How to download and install macOS Big Sur beta to your Mac
How to download and install macOS Big Sur beta to your Mac (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple released Mac OS X way back on March 24, 2001.
  • 20 years later this video shows just how macOS has changed over the years.

March 24, 2001 saw Apple drop what would become the foundation that Macs would use for the next 20 years and, likely, much longer. Mac OS X Cheetah arrived alongside a new interface, dubbed Aqua. Love it or loathe, it, Aqua started Apple off on a run of design choices that ultimately led to what we saw on iPhone in 2007. iOS 14 has changed a lot since then, but wait until you see how macOS has changed since 2001.

That's something Martin Nobel set about showing us in a new YouTube video.

Introducing the Evolution of macOS.

It's been exactly 20 years since Mac OS X has been officially released to the public. Here's an evolution video demonstrating how much has changed with Apple's macOS in the past two decades.

Apple has only recently started to change the underpinnings of macOS thanks to a filesystem switch to APFS and app signing features like Gatekeeper. But you'll see some big changes across the interface as well. Especially if you weren't a fan of Aqua way back when!

Anyone buying one of Apple's best Macs today will receive macOS Big Sur as well as future updates to come. Who knows what we'll all be using 20 years from now – it'll probably look more like iPadOS than Mac OS X, that's for sure.

Were you around back in 2001? I want to hear your thoughts on Mac OS X and Aqua. I wasn't in the Apple world back then, but I do remember controversy. It wouldn't be a Mac software update without controversy, would it?

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.