Retro Home Computers – NeXT Computer


NeXT Computer
1985-1996

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs left Apple Computer in 1985 in a power struggle in which the board sided with John Sculley and Steve Jobs left. Steve Jobs did not agree with the direction of Apple and wanted to take back control and get rid of John Sculley.

Jobs started up NeXT to build a better computer in which he could show up apple computer. Steve also used this time to refine his presentation style and mature as a business leader and visionary.

NeXT Computer

NeXT Computer was based in Redwood City, California. NeXT released the NeXT Computer in 1988 and the NeXTstation in 1990. Sales amounted to little more than 50,000 units.

NeXTstep

NeXT step was a very influential operating system. It was innovative and became the basis for the next generation Apple Macintosh operating system when Steve Jobs returned to Apple Computer in 19XX. NeXT discontinued all hardware development in 1993, focusing all its efforts on developing and marketing OpenStep.

NeXTstep, the operating system for NeXT

Above: NeXTstep, the operating system for NeXT

OpenStep is an object-oriented application programming interface (API) that was developed by NeXT in cooperation with Sun Microsystems as an object-oriented operating system. Sun was able to implement a scaled down version of NeXTstep on it’s Solaris operating system. Standardization also worked the other way, allowing libraries to be ported back over to NeXTstep.

OpenStep describes the upper level libraries and services while NeXTstep encompassed these libraries and the operating system. The Mach kernel was removed from OpenStep and OpenStep was developed to be endian-free. OpenStep also new classes that were added to support endian-conversion. OPenStep was also developed to be platform independent. And lastly, OpenStep uses reference counting to manage and object lifetimes.

NeXT Computer 1987 – 1993

NeXTcube

Above: NeXTcube

Avie Tevanian developed the operating system for NeXT while hardware was developed by Rich Page. A prototype design was presented on October 12, 1988. The first NeXT computer had a unique design that was mandated by Steve Jobs. The design called for a 1foo cubed case made of magnesium, coloured black.

Shipments began in 1989 and achieve modest sales at a start price of $6,500. It was powered by the Motorola 68030, included between 8MB and 64MB of RAM. It had both an optical drive and hard drive.

The optical drive was 256MB and the hard drive was between 330 and 660MB. It included an ethernet port and could drive a resolution of 1120 x 832. This was well in excess of what was available for desktop computers of the time, which did not have optical drive and were lucky to have 1MB of ram.

NeXTstation

NeXTstation

Above: NeXTstation

The NeXTstation was the second and last generation of the NeXT platform as it was discontinued in 1993 due to lack of sales and cash flow concerns.

The second generation included two new models: the NeXT Cube and the NeXTstation. They were called the cube and slab respectively.

The optical drives were replaced with 2.88MB floppy drives and then the CD drive common a few years later. Later models included the Motorola 68040 and memory of 128MB. In total, 50,000 NeXT systems were sold.