When the Mac OS was first introduced in 1984, it was a completely radical way of interacting with a computer. Rather than having to type long strings of arcane commands, a user could manipulate the system, files, documents, and data by simply pointing to icons and clicking. The success of the Mac OS drove the other PC-oriented operating systems to also adopt a graphical user interface (GUI).
Just to give credit where credit is due, the user interface made mainstream by the Mac was based on work done at Xerox. I guess that just goes to show that the inventor of something doesn't always get the most out of it.
Since that time, the Mac OS has undergone many improvements as it moved from early versions up to versions 8, 9, and finally 9.2 which carried it into the year 2001. These versions successfully made the transition from 68K processors to PowerPCs. They included Internet features early in the life of the Internet and then integrated the Net into the OS under 9. Each of the versions further refined the OS and added features (some of which were useful and survived, while others went by the wayside). Mac OS 9.2 was and is an excellent OS.
However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Even as powerful and capable as Mac OS 9.2 was, by the end, it was showing the core architecture's age. It lacked modern, fundamental design features that are needed to support the demands of today's user in terms of reliability and stability. It didn't provide all the tools that today's power-hungry Mac users need. The time had definitely come for something new.
Mac OS X is all that and more. Although it is called version ten, a more appropriate name might be Mac OS: The Next Generation. Although Mac OS X shares some interface commonality with previous versions, that is where the similarities end?at the surface. Mac OS X is a completely new operating system. From its Unix core to the desktop's Dock, Mac OS X is the future of the Mac platform?and it's a very bright future indeed.