Copland is an operating system developed by Apple for Macintosh computers between 1994 and 1996 but never commercially released. It was intended to be released as System 8, and later, Mac OS 8. Planned as a modern successor to the aging System 7, Copland introduced protected memory, preemptive multitasking, and several new underlying operating system features, while retaining compatibility with existing Mac applications. Copland's tentatively planned successor, codenamed Gershwin, was intended to add more advanced features such as application-level multithreading.
|Developer||Apple Computer, Inc.|
|Source model||Closed source|
|Marketing target||Macintosh users|
|Preceded by||System 7|
|Succeeded by||Mac OS 8|
Development officially began in March 1994. Over the next several years, previews of Copland garnered much press, introducing the Mac audience to basic concepts of modern operating system design such as object orientation, crash-proofing, and multitasking. In May 1996, Gil Amelio stated that Copland was the primary focus of the company, aiming for a late-year release. Internally, however, the development effort was beset with problems due to dysfunctional corporate personnel and project management. Development milestones and developer release dates were missed repeatedly.
Ellen Hancock was hired to get the project back on track, but quickly concluded it would never ship. In August 1996, it was announced that Copland was canceled and Apple would look outside the company for a new operating system. Among many choices, they selected NeXTSTEP and purchased NeXT in 1997 to obtain it. In the interim period, while NeXTSTEP was ported to the Mac, Apple released a much more legacy-oriented Mac OS 8 in 1997, followed by Mac OS 9 in 1999. Mac OS X became Apple's next-generation operating system with its release in 2001. All of these releases bear functional or cosmetic influence from Copland.
The Copland development effort can be described by pejorative software industry terminology such as "empire building," feature creep, and project death march. In 2008, PC World included Copland on a list of the biggest project failures in information technology (IT) history.