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What is AppleShare®?

AppleShare® was a file server software and protocol from Apple Inc. that facilitated resource sharing among computers in a network. It streamlined access to files, printers, and other services, enhancing collaborative workflows. As technology evolves, understanding its legacy can inform our grasp of modern networking. How has AppleShare® influenced today's file-sharing solutions? Join the conversation to uncover its lasting impact.
Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

AppleShare® was a suite of network services available for Apple computers. It was initially introduced as a file-sharing system but eventually had the functionality of a web server, print server and electronic mail server added. Late in its development cycle, it also added support for the Server Message Block (SMB) and Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocols commonly used by Windows computers. This allowed for a level of interoperability between the two, when file-sharing previously had only been available to clients running a version of Mac OS. Apple ceased development of and gradually began to phase out support for AppleShare® with the introduction of the Mac OSX Server in 1999.

Initial versions of AppleShare® utilized proprietary networking protocols known as AppleTalk for file transfer. These protocols were first introduced in 1984, though later versions of AppleTalk also utilized the more common Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). These later versions of the suite were designated as AppleShare® IP and the addition of TCP/IP support brought it more in line with other server packages that used these protocols.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Though it originally only allowed for file transfer, AppleShare® eventually became a more full-featured network services platform. Prior to the introduction of AppleShare® IP, it functioned primarily as a means for a small network of computers to share files and printers. The various changes implemented in the IP-branded version of the suite changed this by adding support for TCP/IP protocols in addition to a full suite of web server applications.

AppleShare® IP had a total of eight applications, including an IP manager, print manager, web and file server and mail server. Each basic application had an administrator application that allowed the server administrator to customize a variety of settings, in addition to providing certain monitoring tools. This essentially turned Apple into a viable server platform with the ability to serve web pages, deliver electronic mail and more.

Mac OSX v10.5 was the final Apple operating system to support AppleTalk protocols. Without these protocols, most of the AppleShare® functionality was lost and the suite was discontinued. Though the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP) remained intact, most of the other AppleTalk protocols were given over in favor of standard Internet protocols. This rendered AppleShare® more or less obsolete, though much of the same functionality was carried over into the first version of Mac OSX Server. Mac OSX Server itself was based on Apple's acquisition of NeXT, rather than being built on AppleShare®.

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