The first day we printed something in Mac OS X

The first day we printed something in Mac OS X


Mac OS X Server 1.0 was released the day I was interviewed at Apple and played a substantial role in me accepting the offer. The same day, the Developer Preview also shipped and I started at Apple about 17 months before the debut of Public Beta.

A few months before Public Beta shipped, I joined the Mail team. Everyone in Software Engineering (then called Platform Technologies) was encouraged (and volunteered) to test all parts of the system, particularly those that were in the worst shape.

Public Beta

In Public Beta, printing effectively didn’t work at all. It always amazed me that people actually paid $30 for Public Beta, but Apple needed all the $$$ it could get at that time. Platform Technologies was a small group of about 200 engineers, so those funds could hire at least a handful of sorely needed engineers.

First release

For the 1.0 release of Mac OS X was codenamed Cheetah, so it at least sounded like it might be fast! I remember timing a cold launch of Mail on a middle-of-the-road system to be 17 seconds? Can you imagine?

Even though we were less than a month before the March 24, 2001 release date, printing was just not coming together. Although certain brands of printers were limping along, other brands simply did not respond at all when you tried to print.

The printer in our area was the latter category. You’d try to print and it would either say it couldn’t communicate with the printer or it would act like it worked but the printer would remain dead silent. It’s hard for a printer not to make annoying noises at least some of the time.


A few weeks before GM, a miracle occurred. I loaded my Mac with the latest development version of Mac OS X and tried to print a page of text from TextEdit. Lo and behold, the printer made some sounds! I rushed out of my office and a few others who heard it joined me.

We waited in eager anticipation as the page slowly emerged from the printed. I grabbed the sheet and flipped it over.

Blank page.

We rejoiced and celebrated. A few heard us and emerged from their offices to join in.