It was based on Novell's next in-development version of DR DOS with its pre-emptive multitasker, which provided a hybrid 32-bit/16-bit core system similar in architecture to Windows 3.1 in 386 Enhanced Mode, but without a GUI.
The ported System 7.1 ran on top of this environment.
The Macintosh line underwent a similar transition between 1994 and about 1996, when Apple switched from Motorola's 68k series of chips to IBM/Motorola Power PC processors, developed jointly by Motorola, Apple, and IBM.
This took several years, during which Apple produced versions of the classic Mac OS that could run on either platform, introduced fairly low-level emulation of the 68k architecture by the Power PC models, and encouraged third-party developers to release fat binaries that could run natively on either architecture.
During the Keynote address at Macworld in 2006, where the first Intel-based Macs, the i Mac and Mac Book Pro, were announced, Steve Jobs remarked that the new naming schemes for their products reflected their desire to have "Mac" in the name of all of their computers, and because they were "done with power." This was in reference to the fact that the previous Power PC G5 processors were not energy efficient, and therefore used far too much power to be used in any portable Macs.
The first known attempt to move to Intel platforms was the Star Trek project from spring 1992 to 1993, a joint effort with Novell to port Mac OS to run on ordinary 486 PCs.
Apple's initial press release indicated the transition would begin by June 2006, and finish by the end of 2007, but it actually proceeded much more quickly.
Despite that, Snow Leopard does support Power PC based applications and was the final version of mac OS to do so.
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The first was the switch from the Motorola 68000 ("68k") series architecture (used since the original Macintosh 128K) to the Power PC architecture.
Apple is the only personal computer company to have successfully completed such a transition – competitors Commodore and Atari never regained their market positions after their switch from 6502 to 68k in the mid-1980s and stopped manufacturing computers in the early 1990s, around the time Apple was switching to Power PC.