Yes, it’s true: the public beta version of OS X did not have an Apple menu. It had an Apple logo in the center of the menu bar, but it just sat there. It was not a menu– it was just a badge, and it was “Aqua.” Click it and nothing happened.
There was more than a bit of an uproar about this and the Apple menu’s position and some functionality was restored in Mac OS X 10.0.
Thank you to Wikipedia for the image.