Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal.
– Steve Jobs
Anyone who spent a reasonable amount of time with both OS X and Ubuntu with its recent iteration of design changes (aka Unity), can see without doubt the OS X design features and elements that has been heavily copied by (or helped to inspire) Ubuntu.
What often gets lost in discussions on how everyone else is ripping off apple design ideas is the fact that apple itself is not immune to this fault (if you would call it that). For instance, lets just talk about the OS X dock. I always reposition my OS X dock to be on the left-hand side of the screen, it works good for me that way and I have seen others who use it like that.
With Unity, Ubuntu introduced dock and positioned it on the left hand side. And its fixed, in default setup you can’t change the dock’s position. It works pretty much how you would expect a dock would work. What some people may not know is that there was Linux DE docks even before Unity docks, as a package, with all kinds of options to customize it.
There were similar looking docks in other OS even before it was first introduced in OS X in 2001. In one form or another, there was a dock on NEXTSTEP (which was later bought by Apple), OS/2 3.0, Windows 98, AmigaOS, MorphOS, BeOS. But the first OS that most likely introduced it was RISC OS in 1987 (was called Icon Bar), curiously enough Steve Jobs’ NEXTSTEP picked up the design element a year later without much fuss.
In Apple’s credit, they almost always repackaged an existing idea by making it look good. But their ideas itself are not always original as the fanboys would like you to believe.
The original Dock in RISC OS in 1987: