A History of Apple’s Server Products — Sans the Xserve, Which was Boring

Apple Workgroup Server

“Apple Workgroup Server” was the name given to machines shipped from Apple from 1995 to 2003.

These machines were based on standard shipping hardware at the time, from the Quadra 950 (known as the Workgroup Server 95) to the full range of PowerMac G4s, dubbed the “Macintosh Server G4.”

Later machines shipped with Mac OS X Server, but the earlier ones ran an Apple-built version of Unix named A/UX.

A/UX: Apple Unix

A/UX was Apple’s Unix operating system[1] on which powered several models of servers. It had the following system requirements:

  • 68k Processor with FPU
  • Paged memory management

It ran on the Macintosh II, SE/30, Quadra and Centris series of computers. Based on UNIX System V Release 2.2., Apple developed it from 1988 to 1995, adding sections of BSD and POSIX code to the operating system, and improving on things like the TCP/IP stack.

A/UX looked mostly like System 7, and could even run System 7 applications in emulation. It included a command line interface, and tools to build “hybrid” applications, that could take advantage of Mac OS APIs and Unix tools.

NASA was a large A/UX client, running a server named “Jagubox.” This machine was run by Jim Jagielski, and served as the main source of software for A/UX users.

Jagielski also ran the A/UX FAQ mailing list.

There’s no way to run A/UX on modern hardware.

Apple Network Server

In 1996 and 1997, the company shipped the Apple Network Server. These machines were stand-alone products, not machines based on consumer-level hardware. Apple made three versions of the Network Server. The 500/132, 700/150, and 700/200 sold for US$11,000, US$15,000 and US$19,000, respectively.

Apple used the main logic board out of the Power Macintosh 9500, coupled with six free PCI slots, space for two Ethernet cards, and SCSI RAID support. They were the first Apple machines to ship with native VGA support.

Based on the PowerPC architecture, the ROMs in these three machines forbid it from booting in to Mac OS. Instead, these machines ran IBM AIX, not to be confused with the A/UX found on the earlier Workgroup Servers.

Apple used a custom version named “AIX for Apple Network Servers,” which included AppleShare and support for Apple’s hardware. The main version of AIX was built by IBM, and is still being developed today.

The Xserve

The Xserve is pretty boring, compared to the machines listed above. Maybe another day…

  1. In a weird twist of fate, Apple came back to this years later, when building OS X on top of NextStep.  ↩