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NeXT, Inc. (later NeXT Computer, Inc. and NeXT Software, Inc.) was founded in 1985 by Steve Jobs. It was based in Redwood City, California, and developed and manufactured a series of computer workstations intended for the higher-education and business markets.
NeXT was founded by Steve Jobs after he was forced out of Apple, taking with him former Apple employees Joanna Hoffman, Bud Tribble, George Crow, Rich Page, Susan Barnes, Susan Kare, and Dan'l Lewin.
Ross Perot invested $20 million in exchange for 16 percent of NeXT's stock, and subsequently joined the board of directors in 1988.
In 1986, Jobs recruited the famous graphic designer Paul Rand to create a brand identity for $100,000. He created a 20-page brochure detailing the brand, including the precise angle used for the logo (28°!) and a new company name spelling, NeXT.
A team led by Avie Tevanian, who was a Mach kernel engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, was to develop the NeXTSTEP operating system. The hardware division, led by Rich Page—one of NeXT's cofounders who had previously led Apple's Lisa team—designed and developed the hardware. NeXT's first factory was completed in Fremont, California, in 1987.
The NeXT Computer and NeXTSTEP operating system.
The first “NeXT Computer” was based on the 25 MHz Motorola 68030 central processing unit (CPU) with between 8 and 64 MB of random-access memory (RAM), a 256 MB magneto-optical (MO) drive, a 40 MB (swap-only), 330 MB, or 660 MB hard disk drive, 10BASE2 Ethernet, NuBus, and a 17 inch MegaPixel grayscale display measuring 1120 by 832 pixels. The magneto-optical (MO) drive manufactured by Canon Inc. was the primary mass storage device.
In 1989, NeXT struck a deal for former Compaq reseller Businessland to sell the NeXT Computer in select markets nationwide. Selling through a retailer was a major change from NeXT's original business model of only selling directly to students and educational institutions.
Also In 1989, Canon invested US $100 million in NeXT, for a 16.67 stake and with the condition of using the NeXTSTEP environment with its own workstations and being NeXT's distributor in Japan.
The NeXT Computer was first released on the retail market in 1990, for US$9,999.
The NeXTcube, and the NeXTstation
Nicknamed "the slab" for its form-factor of a low-rise box, as Steve Jobs forbade "pizza box", so as not be compared with Sun workstations that were known as this. The magneto-optical drive was replaced with a 2.88 MB floppy drive, and then a CD-ROM drive. Colour graphics were available only the NeXTstation Color, and on the NeXTdimension graphics processor hardware for the NeXTcube. The new computers were cheaper and faster, with the new Motorola 68040 processor.
In 1992, NeXT launched "Turbo" variants of both the NeXTcube and NeXTstation, with a 33 MHz 68040 processor and the maximum RAM capacity increased to 128 MB. NeXT sold 20,000 computers in 1992.
NeXT computers were delivered with Wolfram Mathematica pre-installed. Several developers used the NeXT platform to write pioneering programs.
Tim Berners-Lee used a NeXT Computer in 1990 to create the first Web browser and Web server; accordingly, NeXT was instrumental in the development of the World Wide Web.
NeXT systems were used by professors for scientific and engineering applications, and for developing newspaper layouts using News. The games Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, and Quake were developed by iD Software on NeXT machines. Other games based on the Doom engine, such as Heretic and Hexen: Beyond Heretic by Raven Software, as well as Strife by Rogue Entertainment, were also developed on NeXT hardware using iD's tools.
Other commercial programs were released for NeXT computers, including Altsys Virtuoso, a vector drawing program with page-layout features which was ported to Mac OS and Microsoft Windows as Aldus FreeHand v4, and the Lotus Improv spreadsheet program. The systems were bundled with a number of smaller built-in applications, such as the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Oxford Quotations, the complete works of William Shakespeare, and the Digital Librarian search engine to access them.
1993–96: NeXT Software, Inc.
NeXT withdrew from the hardware business in 1993 and the company was renamed NeXT Software, Inc.
CEO of Sun Microsystems Scott McNealy announced plans to invest $10 million in 1993 and use NeXT software in future Sun systems. NeXT partnered with Sun to create OpenStep which is NeXTSTEP's application layer hosted on a third party operating system.
Returning to the original business plan, products based on OpenStep were released, including OpenStep Enterprise, a version for Microsoft's Windows NT. WebObjects, a platform for building large-scale dynamic web applications was launched and used by businesses, including Dell, Disney, WorldCom, and the BBC. Eventually WebObjects was used solely to power Apple's iTunes Store and most of its corporate website, until the software was discontinued.
NeXT released much of the NeXTSTEP system as a programming environment standard called OpenStep. It marketed OPENSTEP for Mach, its own OpenStep implementation, for several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Return to Apple
Apple acquired NeXT on February 7, 1997 for $429 million in cash, which went to the initial investors and 1.5 million Apple shares, which went to Steve Jobs.
Jobs returned to Apple as a consultant, then later appointed as interim CEO. In 2000, Jobs took the CEO position as a permanent assignment, holding the position until his resignation on August 24, 2011; Jobs died six weeks later on October 5, 2011 from complications related to a relapsed pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour.
NeXT's operating system was ported to Macintosh hardware, combining it with the legacy application layer of Mac OS, a combination that would yield Mac OS X.
NeXT’s innovative object-oriented NeXTSTEP operating system and development environment (Interface Builder) were highly influential.
Though not very profitable, the company had a wide-ranging impact on the computer industry. Object-oriented programming and graphical user interfaces became more common after the 1988 release of the NeXTcube and NeXTSTEP. The technologically successful platform was often held as the trendsetter when other companies started to emulate the success of NeXT's object-oriented system.
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