Andrew Cunningham, writing at Ars Technica:
So why accept the assignment? It goes back to a phenomenon we looked at a few months back as part of our extensive Android history article. Technology of all kinds—computers, game consoles, software—moves forward, but it rarely progresses with any regard for preservation. It’s not possible today to pick up a phone running Android 1.0 and understand what using Android 1.0 was actually like—all that’s left is a faint, fossilized impression of the experience.
As someone who writes almost exclusively about technology at an exclusively digital publication, that’s sort of sobering. You can’t appreciate a classic computer or a classic piece of software in the way you could appreciate, say, a classic car, or a classic book. People who work in tech: how long will it be before no one remembers that thing you made? Or before they can’t experience it, even if they want to?
So here I am on a battered PowerBook that will barely hold a charge, playing with classic Mac OS (version 9.2.2) and trying to appreciate the work of those who developed the software in the mid-to-late ’90s (and to amuse my co-workers). We’re now 12 years past Steve Jobs’ funeral for the OS at WWDC in 2002. While some people still find uses for DOS, I’m pretty sure that even the most ardent classic Mac OS users have given up the ghost by now—finding posts on the topic any later than 2011 or 2012 is rare. So if there are any of you still out there, I think you’re all crazy… but I’m going to live with your favorite OS for a bit.
It’s a fun piece whether you’ve ever used OS 9 or not. I bought my first Mac in 2000 (an iBook Special Edition) and it came with OS 9. I absolutely loved it. In college I worked for the campus IT department and got to work with Macs running Mac OS 8, 7, and even 6. When I started in Apple Retail in 2005 it was still possible to encounter Mac users who stubbornly refused to switch to OS X.
I still have an old iMac G5 at home and I’ve often toyed with installing OS 9 on it just for fun. I miss the whimsy of OS 9, some of which I think is coming back with Yosemite. I miss OS 9’s system sounds, and just the other day I even caught myself going up to the menu bar in OS X to access the app switcher. And I haven’t used OS 9 regularly in over a decade!