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On this day 21 years ago, long before macOS Sonoma and the Mac Studio (2023), Apple launched Mac OS X Jaguar. Marked as version 10.2, this release introduced a number of improvements and features, including some foundations that today's machines still rely on. So, how notable was Mac OS X Jaguar? Let's find out!

Mac OS X Jaguar compatibility

Apple released Mac OS X Jaguar 10.2 on Aug. 23, 2002. At the time, the company charged users interested in installing this version a whopping $129 for a single-user license. Fortunately, those with up to five machines in the same household were able to buy a Family Pack for a discounted $199. That's not to mention that Apple also offered this release for free to all U.S. K-12 teachers.

In terms of hardware support, this OS update required a machine with a PowerPC G3 or G4 processor and 128MB of RAM. Additionally, special Jaguar builds were created for the PowerPC G5. These computers remained supported with additional, minor Jaguar versions that continued to release until October 2003. By then, Mac OS X Jaguar had reached version 10.2.8, which marked its end and the beginning of Mac OS X Panther 10.3's era.

What changed with Mac OS X Jaguar

For starters, this OS update was the first to officially adopt its code name, Jaguar, in marketing. Prior to this release, Apple refrained from mentioning Cheetah and Puma when advertising versions 10.0 and 10.1. This marked the beginning of macOS' update names which initially carried feline names and eventually shifted to Californian areas.

In terms of features, Mac OS X Jaguar introduced the revamped Address Book, which was then rebranded to Contacts years later. Despite the different nomenclature, though, Contacts has remained pretty much the same since the Jaguar's Address Book debut.

Apart from that, version 10.2 also introduced MPEG-4 support in the QuickTime player, in addition to Inkwell for recognizing handwritten content and Rendezvous for interacting with other devices on the same network.

Past, present, and future

Jaguar, like all Mac OS releases, played a role in shaping the new Macs we use today. It was the third major release following the retirement of Classic Mac OS and the introduction of the overhauled Mac OS X. While Jaguar itself may not be the most prominent OS release out there, we certainly still use some of its technologies today, such as Bonjour (originally Rendezvous) for communicating with printers and other devices and the Contacts app for managing phone numbers, emails, addresses, and more.

A few years later, the Mac OS X branding was dropped in favor of OS X, which then transformed into the macOS we use today, such as macOS Ventura. Now that the names have been streamlined across Apple's operating system, it's hard to imagine the company retiring the macOS label anytime soon. After all, the software has now matured, and Apple is no longer figuring the basics out. Though, it certainly is possible that the iPhone maker could drop the Californian code names publicly and stick to mere version numbers — if it decides to further streamline how it refers to its operating systems and follow iOS' lead.