in Design

How our favorite software applications looked like in the past?

Software applications have seen a great evolution in the last two decades. Technology has advanced so quickly that working in Norton Commander seems like yesterday.  I remember that some time ago, mIRC was a miracle. I could not believe how easy is to communicate with hundreds of people from around the world. Below you can see some of the “ancestors” of today’s most popular programs. Ah…the memories.

Apple II Desktop 1.1

The Apple II was designed and built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak by the end of 1976. It was the first mass marketed personal computer. The Apple II was a single-board computer like the Apple I, but the Apple II was much improved, going several steps further than its predecessor. The Apple II had the BASIC (Beginner’s All Symbolic Instruction Code) programming language built in, and it had the ability to display text and graphics in colour.

Mac OS System 1.1

Only four months after the release of the Macintosh, Apple had already updated the OS to System 1.1. The main advantage of System 1.1 by far was a dramatic speed increase in disk copying. Apple accomplished the task by increasing the Finder’s memory buffer, therefore allowing the Finder to copy larger chunks of data at a time and reducing the number of disk swaps needed. A big deal for Steve Jobs was system startup speed, as a famous anecdote explains.

Mac OS 8

Mac OS 8 is an operating system that was released by Apple Computer on July 26, 1997. It represented the largest overhaul of the Mac OS since the release of System 7, some six years previously. It puts more emphasis on color than previous operating systems. Released over a series of updates, Mac OS 8 was an effort to integrate many of the technologies developed for Apple’s overly-ambitious operating system known as Copland. Mac OS 8 helped modernize the Mac OS while Apple developed its next generation operating system, Mac OS X. Mac OS 8 is one of Apple’s most successful software releases, selling over 1.2 million copies in the first two weeks.

Windows 1.01

Windows 1.0 is a 16-bit graphical operating environment that was released on 20 November 1985. It was Microsoft’s first attempt to implement a multi-tasking graphical user interface-based operating environment on the PC platform. Windows 1.0 was the first version of Windows launched. It was succeeded by Windows 2.0.

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1x is a series of 16-bit operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers. The series began with Windows 3.1, which was first sold during March 1992 as a successor to Windows 3.0. Further editions were released between 1992 and 1994 until the series was superseded by Windows 95.

iTunes 1

iTunes is a proprietary digital media player application, used for playing and organizing digital music and video files. The application is also an interface to manage the contents on Apple’s iPod and iPhone lines, as well as the iPad. iTunes 1 was based on SoundJam MP code and it was launched in 2001 and it was supported until  March 2002.

Amiga OS (Workbench 1.0)

Commodore named their Amiga computer’s first operating system Workbench 1.0 and continued with the Workbench name until version 3.1, when it was changed to AmigaOS, prompted by Apple renaming their propriety OS from “System” to “MacOS”. Subsequently the Amiga computer used the name Workbench to refer only to the native graphical interface file manager and application launcher of the Amiga’s operating system typically presented to users upon booting the Amiga. In that regard the Workbench GUI component was not required to boot the Amiga or run other applications, but was a standalone application listed in the startup-sequence script.

GEOS V2.0 for Commodore C64

The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982. Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US $595.

Adobe Photoshop 2.5 (in Window 3.1)

Adobe Photoshop 2.5 was released in November 1992.

Windows Media Player 7 (in Windows ME)

Windows Media Player (abbreviated WMP) is a proprietary digital media player and media library application developed by Microsoft that is used for playing audio, video and viewing images on personal computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, as well as on Pocket PC and Windows Mobile-based devices. Windows Media Player 7 was released in July 2000.

Microsoft Word (for Windows 1.1)

This version was released in 1989. This was the first version of Word for Windows

Y!Messenger 3.5

I don`t know the release year of this version, I just found this interval:  August 2000- November 2001. I wanted to find a screenshot for the first version but unfortunately I didn`t had any luck.  Anyway, if you are curious this is the description for ver.1: The first public version, released with the name “Yahoo! Pager”. It included basic messaging support, a buddy list with status message support, the ability to block other users, alerts when a buddies came online, and notifications when a new Yahoo! Mail message arrived

Mozilla Firefox 2

Mozilla Firefox 2 was a version of Mozilla Firefox, a web browser released on October 24, 2006 by the Mozilla Corporation. Firefox 2 uses version 1.8 of the Gecko layout engine for displaying web pages. The release contained many new features not found in Firefox 1.5, including improved support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and JavaScript 1.7, as well as user interface changes.

Opera 2.12

Opera is known for originating many features later adopted by other Web browsers. This version was released in February 1997.

3D Studio for DOS

Autodesk 3D Studio release 1 was released in October of 1990. This is a picture showing a screenshot of the earliest prototype  from November 1988.

Skype 2.0

Featuring the much anticipated video conferencing ability, Skype 2.0 has been released in 2006.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.

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