Over the years I've amassed a collection of old software and machines. This is just my list of what runs well where and why, and occasional other notes about apps.
Written January 2009, updated December 2009, June 2010, September 2010, March 2011, November 11, 2014, September 28, 2015, and possibly other dates.
Overall, there is an interesting new matrix: some things require a new OS, some require Intel, some both. For example, some things will run on 10.4 but require Intel, some will run on 10.5 on either platform.
Also: EOLs. It interests me greatly to see when Apple in particular quits doing things for their old OSs. Safari tops out at 1.3 for 10.3 (abandoned long ago) and went up to 4 for 10.4. Safari 5 is 10.5-only, as is iTunes 10.
Mac OS X
LOL. I lost track of what I was writing and made TWO entries per OS for a while below. :-/
- 10.0, 10.1, 10.2: run on any G3 with 128 MB RAM. 10.2 has Quartz Extreme. Safari is too old to run anything worthwhile. 10.2 is the last OS X that will run on a Beige G3.
- 10.0: Came out early 2001, Brand new (compared to OS 9); UNIX/NeXT underpinnings, modern memory management and multitasking; barely worked. Selecting icons on the desktop caused second-long delays in UI response.
- 10.1: Came out a few months later (late 2001), had some good, basic speed improvements. Still laggy but somewhat useable. No apps.
- 10.2: Performance improvements, especially if you have a QuartzExtreme-capable video card. (16MB+, certain chipsets.) By this time, major Adobe apps are out (first Illustrator, then photoshop) and MS Office X.
- 10.3: Brushed metal UI, sidebar, fast user switching
- 10.4: Added Dashboard (meh) and Spotlight (guh)
- 10.5: Added Time Machine (yay!), monochromatic home folder icons, small sidebar icons
- 10.6: Intel-only. Not much else. Sold as "refinements", anyway.
- 10.3 - Panther: requires a G3 with built-in USB (iMac, B/W G3). Had a nicely revised Finder (useful sidebars) and came with iChat A/V (a $29 upgrade to 10.2). Safari 1.3.2 is now (1/2009) almost worthless. The newest machines that shipped with it were Mac minis and early G5s.
- 10.4 - Tiger: requires a G3 with built-in FireWire. (I.E., not some iMacs. Not sure about G3 PowerBooks.) I hate Spotlight. Can run Safari 3 or 4. First OS X for Intel Macs. Worked with Boot Camp Beta, but the beta period has expired.
- 10.5 - Leopard: requires a G4/867 or better, DVD drive, 512 MB RAM. Time Machine and Quick Look make up for Spotlight, the crappy Dock, and the effed-up Finder sidebars. Comes with Boot Camp. iLife 09 requires 10.5.
- 10.6 - Snow Leopard: For Intel Macs only. Exposé is better. If you try to eject a disk and it's in use, IT WILL TELL YOU WHAT IS USING IT. Other refinements. THE BEST OS X OF ALL TIME.
- 10.7 - Lion: not much to say here. What was new, I didn't like (like the dumb angled pointer finger on the mouse cursor over links), and I only used it a bit. This was the release that dropped Rosetta (PowerPC emulation) completely.
- 10.8 - Mountain Lion: THE LAST DECENT RELEASE OF OS X. Using this on my main Mac now. (miniserver2, 9/2013 maybe?) Some of what I don't like was new in 10.7. I think Notifications are new. I hate notifications. I did something to completely disable it on my main Mac. I don't even see the icon in the menu bar. Other Macs, I just set "quiet hours" to be 4am to 3am. iCal no longer generates neat little popups, so I use Outlook for basic reminders. iChat is gone; Messages blows. Luckily FSO students barely use iChat anymore, and even more so since Messaging was added to FSO 3.0 in mid-2014. At least Labels still work as they have since 10.2 or 10.3 - big, VISIBLE circus stripes.
- 10.9 - Mavericks: The first free OS. THE FIRST HORRIBLE OS X. Never used this much. Some of what I don't like might have been in earlier version. (Released late 2013. I saw it previewed at Alt WWDC in SF.) LABELS are now TAGS and are TOTALLY USELESS. Tiny little dots AND it's hard to tell yellow from green. I guess I'll... just not use them anymore. Also, OPEN IN NEW WINDOW behavior is now broken (compared to the previous ~20 years of Mac OS)
- 10.10 - Yosemite: EVEN WORSE. UGH. Hate this so much. Transparent CRAP from iOS 7 took over. Step 1: Turn off translucent effects. System font is Helvetica. Looks HORRIBLE on non-retina screens, especially they bolded app name in the menu bar. Spotlight is now FRONT AND CENTER for no good reason, AND it can not be moved from that location! AND it's huge and information-un-dense! So if you want to do a quick math problem, odds are it will COVER THE TEXT ON THE SCREEN THAT YOU'RE USING AS THE SOURCE FOR YOUR NUMBERS. QuickTime Player LOST a useful feature — it no longer plays audio if you click '>>' and watch at 2x, 4x, etc. Also, iMovie HD 6 will run on 10.9 but not on 10.10. Updated my HMH laptop and POOF, no more good iMovie. :-( :-( :-( Oh, and if you have a Finder window open and press command-F, it activates the search box in the CURRENT window instead of making a new window for you.
- 10.11 - El Capitan - released late 2015. Haven't used yet. System font is now San Francisco. I can't imagine that it has one redeeming feature over 10.10. Oh, wait: I think they added the feature so that the Spotlight window can be moved.
- 10.12 - Sierra: To be released late 2016. Having seen the *yawn* demos, there is literally not a single feature here that I care about. They keep doing crap like "now you can drag things into Mail!" and I think this is when they're adding iPad-like split-screen, etc. I don't even know and don't even care. My QUAD CORE (thankyouverymuch) Mini with 10.8 will (hopefully!) last me a long, long time.
OH YEAH, they added Siri. More from apple.com/macos: "macOS [ugh] Sierra helps you rediscover your best photos, shop faster and more conveniently online, and work more seamlessly between devices. It can also help free up valuable storage space. Now your Mac does even more for you, so you can do more with your Mac." So yeah — NOTHING useful here.
0.7.1: First Universal binary (i.e., native on Intel)
~0.9.x: requires 10.5
0.9.4: last version for PPC
Safari - maxes out at 1.3.2 for 10.3. 10.4 goes up to 4, 10.5, and 10.6 get Safari 5. 10.5 is limited to 5.0.6. 5.1 (with "Downloads" as a popover list instead of a separate window) requires 10.6 (and, by extension, an Intel CPU.)
Firefox only goes to 2.x for 10.3 (12/2009 - I've only got one 10.3 Mac left. :-( ) and 3.6 or so for 10.4. Firefox 4 runs on 10.5 and newer.
- Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10: First that ran natively in OS X. Great for single G4 (notebook, Mac mini). Photoshop 7 was the last version that could be used to edit pictures of US currency. http://www.google.com/search?q=photoshop+us+currency CS is kind of a pain when you work for a textbook publishing company and want to make a Math book.
- Adobe CS: Good on a single G4
- Adobe CS2: Good on a G5 or dual G4; no major compelling new features (for me, at least) over CS1.
- Adobe CS3: First that ran natively on Intel. OK on a dual G5. I love CS3. Auto-align is awesome.
- Adobe CS4: Rewritten in Flash. Never touch the stuff.
- Adobe CS5: Will start using because I have to for work. (Update: Haven't! :-) )
- Adobe CS5.5: Came out mid-2011.
- Adobe CS 6: Came out at some point.
- Adobe CC (Creative Cloud): Hooray, the day has finally come when it is IMPOSSIBLE to know EXACTLY what version of Photoshop someone is running. Started using @ FS late 2014. I started my survey in mid-January 2015.
- Office 97: Windows.
- Office 98: required a 120 MHz PPC Mac, which was kind of a lot at the time. :-)
- Office 2000: Windows.
- Office 2001: Mac OS 9 (maybe 8 or 7, not sure.)
- Office X: native for OS X; almost identical to 2001; my favorite of the bunch overall, other than only supporting 31-character filenames.
- Office 2003: Windows. Yawnfest.
- Office 2004: Some crappy defaults, like Page Setup view in Excel and formula warnings turned on everywhere; nothing that can't be worked around. Copy and paste works between Excel 2004 and Safari 2 or 3 in 10.4.
- Office 2007: Windows. Introduced docx/xlsx/etc. and the Ribbon.
- Office 2008: First version that runs natively on Intel Macs. Ribbon UI.
- Parallels 1: I never used.
- Parallels 2: 10.4 only. Won't run in 10.5. Runs W2K like a champ.
- Parallels 3: Claimed to come with better 3D but wouldn't run any of the 4 or 5 old games I threw at it.
- Parallels 4: Own, haven't used much. Runs a couple of my old games.
- Parallels 5: Skipped this one.
- Parallels 6: Have barely used 4, probably won't get this one. 4 runs in 10.6 so I can stick with it for a while. No need to move on unless it doesn't run in 10.7, which hasn't even been announced yet. (9/2010)
VirtualBox: Great, except that its performance extensions don't work in W2K--only XP and newer.
- Win95: Great on ancient hardware, like a P100 with 32 MB RAM. Runs up to IE 5.5.
- Win98: Great at 400 MHz/128 MB and up.
- W2K: The finest OS Microsoft ever made. Stable and fast. Runs like a Swiss watch on a 1 GHz PIII. OK with 128 MB, great with 256. The first OS that ever ran an ATI capture card stably enough to actually CAPTURE VIDEO.
- XP: Ugh. Only when needed. XP + P4 = death.
- Vista: Ugh^2. I hear it's OK now. Other than the smallest amount of testing, I have no personal or professional reason to use it. They even screwed up Freecell, turning a nice, simple, clean, FAST game into a Vegas-esque nightmare of glows and other lame effects.
- 7: apparently fixes problems (real and imagined) with Vista. I hate the new taskbar. I hear there's a way to fix it but I didn't find it in the digging I did. Luckily I've got XP at work, and XP at home as needed, usually in a VM. Update: OK, on 7 at work now. I can do exactly the bare minimum on it.
- 8: Never used. I've literally never used a computer running this OS, other than MAYBE tapping on it at stores. But I don't even remember if that was the actual OS on like a Surface or just some generic Windows-whatever tablet. Well, I guess if it was Windows and not a phone, it was Windows 8. OK then, I've touched it. Like for 2 minutes at Office Depot.
- 10: Haven't used yet.
- iMovie 4: Works with a Sony DVMC DA1 or DA2. Captures in 2GB (9 minute 28 second) chunks. If you trim clips and empty the trash, it creates new, smaller clips and recovers the space. Takes a little time but it's GREAT on older systems with small hard drives. Only works in standard-def.
- iMovie 4 will run with 10.4/Intel but not 10.5 PPC or 10.6/Intel.
- iMovie 5 (aka iMovie HD): Doesn't work with a Sony DVMC DA1. Captures up to 1 hour at a time. DOES NOT reclaim space when you trim a clip--only if you delete one entirely. Introduced the ability to capture from an iSight.
- iMovie 6: Not much different from iMovie 5. Runs natively on Intel. Was a free download from Apple (no longer available) if you had iMovie 8 and wanted to downgrade. 11/2014: Put 10.10 (Yosemite) onto my FS MBP. iMovie 6 ran under 10.9 but won't run under 10.10.
- iMovie 8: Radically different from iMovie 6. Supposed to make most editing easier but only achieves that about half the time--many things, such as basic, precise editing, are now much harder.
- iMovie 9: Fixes some things that were missing from iMovie 8, like precision editing. I sitll prefer the old style for the simple work I do.
iDVD: I had a G5 with 10.5 and iMovie 6 but I needed to make a DVD so I installed iDVD 5 from my iLife 05 disc (the first one I came across) and when I try to launch it, it tells me "You cannot use this version of the application iDVD.app with this version of Mac OS X." I ran Software Update to bring it up to 5.0.1 (the only update available) and it still doesn't work.
Google Chrome: Requires 10.5 and Intel.
Other than a few Finder bugs, and the fact that Safari got been left behind, my favorite setup for a long time was a dual G5 with 10.3.9, Adobe CS, and Office X.