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Golden Apples: X Blast From The Past

Simpler times. The sophistication in the graphics was undeniable.

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LONDON (Rixstep) — These screenshots must be from before the introduction of OS X 10.3 Panther.

The interface still had the horizontal lines - the 'pinstripes'.

Panther was released on 24 October 2003, over 17 years ago.

Panther ran on PPC boxes and required at least 128 MB RAM and 1.5 GB disk free space.

1. Xfile

In all its glory. All the columns save one. That would come later when FreeBSD introduced the birth date field. (This is still not properly treated by Apple so many years after the fact.)

The glyphs were coloured and 32x32. This in an age when Microsoft had attempted to denigrate colours in toolbar glyphs for the simple reason that their own algorithm to handle toolbar glyphs got blotchy when you introduced colour.

File-specific 16x16 icons weren't used either. There were icons for regular files, directories, and symlinks. Who needed more? We gave in after a while, but operations were possibly faster back then with fewer system calls to ferret out the images.

This was a good interface.

2. Are You Sure?

No, no one was going to delete those items. This was a test of a snippet that counted the selected items, later abandoned. The fact that a file manager could effortlessly list 2749 items in so many columns of data was unheard of back then - and still is to this day.

No other file 'manager' - or whatever they want to call themselves - can even expand that many directories without crashing and burning in the attempt. And yes it should be easy. It's easy for Xfile.

3. Test Loop

A test loop we run occasionally, not available in the release build. Back then Xfile could list man3 in less than half a second. The hardware's better today, with solid state drives achieving blistering speeds, and Xfile can list four times that much data in the same half second.

The also-rans - Finder, Path Finder, et al - still can't list it at all.

4. Lightman

The sophistication in the graphics is undeniable. There were journos who wrote to us and told us they'd been given computers by Apple - but returned them. Why?

They didn't like the horizontal lines.

But those lines may disappear, we told them. Think of the bigger picture.

Think if Microsoft or anyone else had been able to achieve that. (They couldn't.)

See Also
Developers Workshop: A Walk on the Wild Side
Developers Workshop: NSOutlineView Wasn't Good Then, It's No Better Now
9,737 files (97,370 data cells) in 0.143 seconds. Beat that, Apple.

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John Cattelin
Media Contact
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