Copland (operating system)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
developer Apple
License (s) proprietary
Current  version D11E4 (June 1996)
ancestry Copland
Architecture (s) PowerPC
Others Development stopped in 1997

Copland was a project from March 1994 Development of a new operating system the company Apple . It was supposed to succeed System 7 . However, when the project was neither nearly finished nor stable after more than 2 years of development, it was discontinued in 1997. Some of the developments from Copland were then integrated into the existing Mac OS from version 7.6.

As the name for the finished system, it was also referred to as the upcoming System 8 , later Mac OS 8 . This designation can also be found in the last published developer version D11E4. Mac OS 8 , published on July 26, 1997, did not emerge from Copland, but a further version of System 7, which should originally have appeared as Mac OS 7.7 .


As early as 1988 Apple began to work on a successor to the outdated Macintosh System Software (then System 6 ). At a meeting of some of Apple's leading managers and developers in March 1988, ideas for the upcoming operating systems were written on index cards in blue, pink and red. The further developments that could be integrated into the existing System 6 were listed on the blue index cards, which ultimately led to System 7 as “Project Blue” . Ideas were noted on the pink index cards that were not possible with the existing operating system, the Macintosh system software, and therefore made a new development necessary. This completely newly developed operating system was developed as "Project Pink" ("pink project") - work on both projects began at the same time as early as 1988. However, disputes arose among the developers of both teams, whereupon management decided to develop both operating systems into one team put together. The work on "Project Blue" - the next Apple Macintosh operating system System 7 - had priority. When System 7 appeared in 1991, Pink was still not in sight as an operating system. In the same year Apple had entered into an alliance with IBM and Motorola to develop a replacement for the Motorola 68000 processor (68k). A 32-bit processor was derived from IBM's POWER architecture, which was to be developed and manufactured by both IBM and Motorola under the name PowerPC , according to Apple's needs. Apple made the joint further development of "Pink" as an operating system for the PowerPC palatable to IBM, whereupon it was jointly continued under the new name Taligent from 1991.

System 7, however, was an operating system developed through and through for the Motorola-68030 (32-bit and with MMU ) - for the PowerPC processor it had to be made executable via a microkernel , which offered a transparent emulation. The speed advantages of the PowerPC were lost due to the necessary emulation, so that System 7 felt just as fast or slow on a Power Macintosh with the faster PowerPC processor as on a Macintosh with an actually slower 68k processor.

Apple was therefore very interested in a new operating system from 1991 onwards. Apple was also out of luck with the “Project Red” project, which was also planned in 1988 and which contained ideas written on red index cards that were then classified as “pinker than pink” - “redder than pink”. After the end of the “Star Trek” project , a System 7.1 ported to the Intel 486 between 1992 and 1993, the resources that had become free were initially transferred to the “Raptor” project (which is considered to be the implementation of the “red project”). but also “Raptor” had to be discontinued due to budget cuts and a lack of developers.

The "Pink" project was developed from 1991 with IBM in the joint subsidiary Taligent as "TalOS" based on a Mach 3 microkernel. But only the part designed as a runtime environment was finished under the name "TalAE" (Taligent Application Environment) and, since Apple completely withdrew from development in 1995, was further developed by IBM as CommonPoint alone.

With MkLinux , Apple even worked on a Linux ( kernel from 1.3, later 2.0) together with the Research Institute of the Open Software Foundation (OSF), which was published in May 1996 as a developer release for the Power Macintosh. In 1999 Apple withdrew from MkLinux development.


In 1990 Microsoft achieved the breakthrough on the PC market with Windows 3.0 , a graphic operating system on par with the Macintosh system software. Windows 3.1 followed in 1991 . For 1993 Microsoft planned to bring the next, 32-bit and multitasking-capable Windows generation, which was developed under the project name "Chicago", to the market. “Chicago” did not come out as Windows 95 until 1995 , but Windows NT 3.1, a Microsoft operating system that already offered memory protection and preemptive multitasking, appeared in 1993 . Apple, on the other hand, was unable with System 7 (1991) to expand the system, which dates back to “System 1” (1984), to include these modern functions.


Since all previous attempts to develop a completely new, modern operating system as a successor to System 7 failed, work on the upcoming “System 8” under the development name “Copland” began in 1994. This new name was chosen deliberately to illustrate the new beginning. The project was named after the contemporary composer Aaron Copland , as previous versions of the Apple operating systems also received internal project names from classical composers - such as Mozart or Beethoven .

The goal was to finally develop a native PowerPC operating system with a modern kernel, which should be able to handle memory protection and preemptive (“real”) multitasking . The desktop was supposed to continue the well-known Macintosh surface advertised as “easy to use”, but for the first time offer multi-user capability and a completely customizable surface ( designs ). The operating system should also offer existing technologies such as OpenDoc , QuickDraw GX , ColorSync , QuickDraw 3D, PowerTalk and PowerShare. But interoperability, i.e. the exchange of data with DOS and Windows, should also be improved, while Copland itself should become the best possible network client .

With System 7, Apple began to license its own operating system to other manufacturers. Copland should also have been openly licensable and should therefore not only run on its own Macintosh computers.


The kernel of the operating system was the NuKernel - a microkernel with support for symmetrical multiprocessing , preemptive multitasking , memory protection and improved virtual memory management , as well as a hardware abstraction layer , which should allow Apple and other manufacturers to create a Macintosh-compatible system on different hardware.

The NuKernel was developed by Apple independently of Copland since 1992, but Apple did not manage to stabilize the kernel until the end.

On top of the NuKernel, all critical subsystems such as I / O , network , file systems, etc. run as a service . In addition, Copland should offer a flexible mechanism for system expansions and low-level mechanisms such as X / Open Transport Interface (OTI), System-V -STREAMS and Data Link Provider Interface (DLPI).

As a result of efforts to make Copland compatible with the existing Macintosh programming interface and thus with existing Macintosh applications, the memory protection had to be deleted again.


Initially, a release date was planned for late 1995, which was later postponed to mid-1996 and late 1997. Apple released at least two developer versions: Version D9 in November 1995 and Version D11 in June 1996. However, these unfinished versions required a Macintosh with System 7 for installation and were only compatible with certain Macintosh models and, until recently, not with existing Macintosh applications. The Copland development, on which about 500 developers worked and which cost more than 250 million dollars in total, was not yet finished in 1997 and hopelessly behind schedule. Apple had to put off Macintosh users and developers with the aged System 7. At the same time, Microsoft enjoyed great success with Windows 95 , and the first serious Linux distributions appeared on the market.

After Apple discontinued Copland in 1997, a project was started with Gershwin as the successor to Copland. Gershwin should have reintegrated the memory protection that was removed from Copland. However, the name of the project remained, as probably no developer has ever worked on the project.

Inspired by Microsoft's amalgamation of MS-DOS and Windows 3.x to Windows 9x , which took less than a year to develop, Apple decided in 1997 to stop Copland and move as many functions as possible into a redesigned system 7.5 to integrate. The first innovations from the Copland project were already incorporated into version 7.6 of Mac OS. Many more have been integrated into Mac OS 8.0.

Copland functions that were incorporated into the further developed Mac OS include: a .:

Other functions that were planned for Copland were only realized with Rhapsody thanks to OPENSTEP (originally NeXTStep) :


Copland was only available as a leaked alpha or beta version or as a developer preview at an early stage of development . It was never stable and was not compatible with existing Macintosh applications until the end. After the project was discontinued, the name "Mac OS 8" was reused for the classic Mac OS 7.7 and numerous developments by Copland were transferred to the existing Mac OS.

version Appearance Designations Remarks
-date -place operating system Code name Special menu
Older version; no longer supported: B5C1 unknown
System 8 Maxwell Early leaked alpha versions .
Older version; no longer supported: D7E1 SunNFun
Older version; no longer supported: D9 November 1995 SpaceAliens Was distributed to selected developers on a CD labeled “ Copland Developer Release: Tools Edition ”. This version identified itself as "System Software 8.0d9", so still "System 8" and not "Mac OS 8."
Older version; no longer supported: D11E4 June 1996 WWDC Mac OS 8 Fun It was distributed on two CDs: " Mac OS 8 Driver Development Kit Version 0.4 " and " Mac OS 8 Tour ". The name "Mac OS 8" was later reused for the classic Macintosh operating system Mac OS 7.7 , which was eventually published as Mac OS 8 .
Old version
Older version; still supported
Current version
Current preliminary version
Future version


In the 1990s, Apple looked for a successor software to the outdated System 7 . Copland was a very promising project, but Apple ended the project after 3 years, arguing that the development would take too much time. At the end of 1997 NeXT was finally taken over and a successor operating system developed, which came on the market in 2001 as Mac OS X. NeXT already had a stable operating system with OPENSTEP , but apparently it took more than 4 years to make this operating system Macintosh compatible. It remains unclear how much of the preparatory work that was done at Apple in the countless projects from Pink, Star Trek , Raptor, MkLinux and Copland could be used for Mac OS X, and whether Copland would have had more development time, not could still have been stabilized.


With the NuKernel, Apple wanted to program a modern microkernel for a modern operating system, but did not manage to stabilize it. After the takeover of NeXT and its operating system, the kernel was renamed from OPENSTEP to XNU , which was also interpreted as the Mac OS  X Nu Kernel. This should make it clear that Apple finally had the stable microkernel in hand with the acquisition.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Amit Singh: Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach . Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006, ISBN 978-0-13-270226-3 , pp. 2 ( full text in Google Book Search).
  2. a b The Long View - Copland (English), basalgangster, February 26, 2011; accessed on May 21, 2016.
  3. a b c d e f Quest for the Operating System (English), Amit Singh, February 2004; accessed on May 21, 2016.
  4. Apple's Copland Project: An OS for the Common Man , Tom Hormby, November 8, 2005,, accessed July 21, 2010.
  5. CocoaDev: NuKernel ( Memento of the original from May 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English); Retrieved May 25, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Hopeful project: Copland , APPLE HISTORY - CHAPTER # 10, - PAGE 2,, accessed: July 21, 2010.
  7. Betaworld: Mac OS 8 “Copland” (d7e1) ( Memento of the original from June 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English); Retrieved May 25, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. a b typewritten software - retrotechnology research lab: Software Library (English); Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  9. Betaworld: Mac OS 8 “Copland” (d11e4, Codenamed: “Spaz”) ( Memento of the original from February 16, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (English); Retrieved May 25, 2016. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Amit Singh: Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach . Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006, ISBN 978-0-13-270226-3 , pp. 36 ( full text in Google Book Search).