Home > Mac OS X > The Beginning of NeXT The Beginning of NeXT Eugenia Loli 2006-10-09 Mac OS X 32 Comments These two really interesting videos (1, 2) at YouTube document the beginnings of NeXT Computers. We can assume that these videos were shot either late 1985 or early 1986. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 32 Comments 2006-10-09 8:08 pm helf yay.. Cant wait to watch those. I love all things NeXT 2006-10-09 8:24 pm Governa Same here! A very important piece of computer/OS history. 2006-10-09 8:32 pm Hank Jobs dying to go after the edu market, not defense or business, from the beginning is odd to me. Ironically he drove the point home repeatedly that $3000 was a cap, and it debuted at just under $7000 edu ($10K commercial). 2006-10-09 8:36 pm helf NeXT wasnt able to price their machines very low due in part to an agreement with Apple that they would stay out of the consumer business. IIRC 2006-10-09 8:38 pm Hank That is what I had heard before too. However in the video he says that the company is just 90 days old, and he has already stated that the entire company focus is the edu market. I’m wondering how much of that “Apple forced us to” is revisionist history. 2006-10-09 9:18 pm Dave_K Apple didn’t force NeXT to pursue the education market, I think that was always NeXT’s intention. From the comments at the start of the second video, it looks like the legal issues with Apple occurred after that first video was shot. What the deal with Apple supposedly did was force NeXT to release more expensive computers than they originally intended. Ultimately making them uncompetitive in the education market, despite the obvious technological advantages of NeXT hardware and software. Whether NeXT would have been more successful without that constraint is impossible to say. The growing domination of the IBM compatible was perhaps a bigger problem than the pricing. After all, Amiga, Acorn and Atari computers were reasonably priced and had clear advantages over the IBM PC, such as superior graphics and multimedia capabilities, yet they still failed in the end. 2006-10-09 10:44 pm ma_d I don’t think there was a $3000 machine that could have run NeXT’s OS until 1990 or later… So, whether they wanted cheaper or not, I’m not sure it was even possible… 2006-10-11 12:15 am helf probably right. To run NS3.x with multiple apps ‘smoothly’, you needed at least 16mb of ram. 32 got extremely crowded quickly (mine came with 16, i tried it with 8, and it was horrid now has 128mb. perfect..). Between RAM and decent HDDs they came with, that was probably half or more of the price tag. Even for today, NeXTs are amazing… to me. 2006-10-09 9:00 pm Dave_K It’s interesting to see a younger Steve Jobs, especially after viewing the man at WWDC 2006. It was also an interesting reminder of the initial intended market for the NeXT computer. With hindsight it seems strange that they believed the higher education market to be a large enough niche for their product. The comment about missing the “technology window”, with other products passing them by if they didn’t release their computer in 1987, seems rather ironic today. Not because of the fact that it was delayed, but because of how long it actually took for other companies to catch up with their technology. Arguably that didn’t fully happen until Apple decided to use their OS a decade later. Watching these videos leaves me inspired to get a NeXTSTEP system up and running. I just have to decide whether to try installing it on a PC, or dig out my old NeXTstation for a more authentic classic NeXT experience. 2006-10-11 12:25 am helf Running on supported x86 hardware is pretty nice. If you need OS4.2 for x86 or anything else, just let me know. I can get you some copies. 2006-10-09 9:25 pm walterbyrd I saw a NeXT demonstrated way back when. The video was great. I think the NeXT box I saw had a 25mhz processor. So what is it with X-Window? 20 years later it still sucks. 2006-10-09 10:14 pm dylansmrjones Actually it’s not so bad. Try running GNUstep, and you’ll see that all the problems with X-Window in KDE/Gnome/etc doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of good applications for GNUstep that doesn’t exist yet… 2006-10-10 7:32 pm aquila_deus Actually it’s not so bad. Try running GNUstep, and you’ll see that all the problems with X-Window in KDE/Gnome/etc doesn’t exist. What problems with kde/gnome/xfce?? 2006-10-10 7:53 pm dylansmrjones Try moving windows around and resizing them. And see how that works in GNUstep. 2006-10-10 8:18 pm oracle2025 Actually I’m sitting in front of my computer to move and resize windows all day long… Actually I’m not. 😛 2006-10-10 8:28 pm dylansmrjones Actually you do resize windows and move them around. Not to mention creating windows (that happens everytime you open a window – like creating a new document, or starting an application). Gnome applications tend to work faster in GNUstep than in Gnome – just remember to have the gnome-session-daemon running (that’s for the good look). 2006-10-09 10:10 pm Hank I’m not sure that you can blame Apple for it being overly expensive either. I think you have to blame Job’s technology vision requiring far too much hardware. Consider that the machine needed a high resolution grayscale monitor, 25MHz 68030 chip, DSP Processor, 8MB of RAM and a ~250MB magneto-optic drive and/or hard disk to run the way ahead of its time NeXTSTEP. As we know those requirements really were a bare minimum, but that stuff cost a fortune back in those days. The comparably equipped Mac IIx, sans MO drive, was $10,000 as well. Granted you got a lot for your money, and the machine was years ahead of its time. However a lower priced entry level model in the originally discussed maximum $3000 price range probably would have been an impossibility. $3000 would have gotten you a quarter of the RAM, a quarter of the disk space, a 68000 or 68020 processor, no DSP and a sub-megapixel black and white monitor. That wouldn’t have been enough to run NeXTSTEP reasonably on. 2006-10-10 12:00 am Alleister I think that is closer to the truth. I can remember 68030/35MHz still did cost a fortune in early ninetees. 2006-10-09 10:42 pm ed wood This “computer for higher education” was proposed at CMU in 1979, loosely called the ‘3M’ computer, targeting a student price of $3000 by the mid-1980s. While trying to push his original Mac on some of these people they took Jobs over to a Sun or an Apollo and said, “here’s a real computer Steve, what you have there is a toy.” So after being booted from Apple, Jobs, in the hubris of ignorance, decides he can make this $3K Unix machine. It shared one critical aspect with the original Mac: the people that bought one had to bring it back in to the dealer to get a hardware “upgrade”, in the case of the Next it was a 40Mb HD because Jobs didn’t know that performance of the demand page VM system was related to disk access time. And it’s networking was thin Ethernet – Jobs thought students would carry those flopticals in their backpacks from class to class, the idea of a true network escape him. So he bought a windowing system from IXI, got Display Postscript from Adobe, Mach/Unix from CMU and made an even more expensive toy than the Macintosh. It came out at about $8000 and was horribly unresponsive. One university said they bought two units to evaluate and when asked what they thought, replied, “We won’t be buying any more.” The WWW would have been developed in the early 1990s even if Next had never existed. 2006-10-09 11:09 pm Hank I don’t think X is a native part of the NeXT display environment. In fact, I believe you needed to install a custom X server to have X windows running on it. i agree on the responsiveness. Even on my 25MHz 68040 NeXTStation it is a bit sluggish. When I compare that side-by-side to a MacSE running System 6, the contemporary of NeXTSTEP 0.9, the responsiveness is tremendous. Of course, System 6 wasn’t doing anywhere near the things that NeXT was and the comparable development environment on any OS at that time was attrocious. Practical OOP for the mass computer market was a relatively new idea. 2006-10-09 11:39 pm twenex Quite right – the NeXT windowing system is based on Display Postscript. 2006-10-09 11:38 pm twenex The WWW would have been developed in the early 1990s even if Next had never existed. Yes, but would it have been anywhere near as intuitive?! 2006-10-10 1:21 am javiercero1 The 3M was a proposal for what a high end workstation would look like in the near future. As for all the other nonsense by the original poster: NeXTStep got networking very early on, in fact their whole marketing approach was that distributed computing will be the “it” thing in the 90s. They had twisted pair and thin ethernet when the standard was thin (if you were lucky). NeXTstep could speak tcp, nfs, novell, and even appletalk (3rd party) from the get go. Its whole permission scheme was based around netingo which was network aware (even if you were in a local machine). So Jobs got networking earlier than other major players. As for the system being unresponsible, well… I give you never used a NeXTStep machine. The floptical drives were replaced very early on, since Canon could not deliver on the promissed access times. Once they had a HDD in most machines (and in the NeXTStations by default), a NeXTStep machine was anything but unresponsibe when compared to what was available then. The universities I worked at loved the machine, esp. since the development environment was light years ahead of anything for that price in the early 90s. 2006-10-10 9:05 pm Hank Remember that NeXT computers shipped with grid computing and rendering distribution software as well. Pretty cool if you think about it. However I take exception with what you state next: As for the system being unresponsible, well… I give you never used a NeXTStep machine. The floptical drives were replaced very early on, since Canon could not deliver on the promissed access times. Once they had a HDD in most machines (and in the NeXTStations by default), a NeXTStep machine was anything but unresponsibe when compared to what was available then. The MO drives were always going to have poor performance, even with their quoted numbers they were orders of magnitude slower in random access time than a hard disk was. Likewise, I don’t think you’ve ever used a NeXTStation side-by-side with a machine of the time. I have, about two months ago–An 8MHz 68000 MacSE running System 6 versus a 25MHz 68040 NeXTStation running NS 3.3. The Mac was far more responsive than the NeXT was. I’m sorry, but it’s just the way it is. Now, the fact is that NeXTSTEP was doing a lot more, and the apps were all OOP based versus what the same things running on the Mac were. So the slowdown is understandable. However you can’t say that there weren’t responsiveness issues compared to other machines of the day. 2006-10-11 12:24 am helf I have a NeXT Mono Turbo (33mhz, NS3.3,128mb with a 1gb scsi) and yes, its slower at some things than my LC2 mac (36mb, ~33mhz). but it IS doing a LOT more I havent used it in comparison with other 68k machines from that time frame, like Ataris/Amigas. I have used it beside a riscos riscpc 700 machine, and it was slower at stuff. but, whatever, its a better system 2006-10-10 3:30 pm Eric Martin He looks and soundsd like a SNAKEOIL salesman. “We aren’t interested in making a buck. Were interested in higher education”. Give me a F****ING break already. That is so PHONEY. 2006-10-10 10:04 pm deathshadow Because of course, nobody ever needs a color monitor – besides they’re too expensive. 2006-10-11 12:26 am helf Ha, and thats why the turbo color slabs and dimension cubes dont exist! 2006-10-11 12:54 am Hank Ha, and thats why the turbo color slabs and dimension cubes dont exist! And lets not even bring up the ridiculously powered NeXTDimension board for the 040 Cube! That was a computer in a computer before the advent of 3D graphics cards. 2006-10-11 6:08 am deathshadow >> Ha, and thats why the turbo color slabs and dimension cubes dont exist! Not until 1991 with the NeXTStation and the upgrade to the cube me bucko – prior to that they ALL came with 17″ monochrome, and NeXTStep had ZERO support for the CONCEPT of color. You kids might not remember this, but back in the 80’s Stevo kept saying ‘nobody needs color’ over and over… on the Mac, on the NeXT… It’s actually something that always amazed me was ‘graphics’ people’s raging chodo for the Mac – since up until recently (past… six years) they’ve had consistantly poorer color depth, lower operating resolutions, and in general lagged a good five years behind ‘Rest of World’ on graphics capabilities… Of course, the video(s) illustrate the detachment from reality that pervaded NeXT – look at it, it’s a bunch of idealistic college age kids with no business knowledge, heads full of immature idealism throwing around marketspeak and buzzwords like it was going out of style… You’d almost think they were talking about Web 2.0 2006-10-12 6:11 pm helf Yeah, but they DID come out with a product way a head of its time My NeXT is a mono slab. And I actually quite like the lack of more than black,white, 2 greys that it has. It’s really easy on the eyes. 2006-10-12 1:45 am tyrione The amount of misinformation regarding NeXT continues to run rampant. Not until 1991 with the NeXTStation and the upgrade to the cube me bucko – prior to that they ALL came with 17″ monochrome, and NeXTStep had ZERO support for the CONCEPT of color. Two years after the introduction its color support surpassed the rest of the industry. Yes that 2 bit grayscale which is the default through Openstep 4.2 is still better than the crap VGA displays we saw for over a decade. The magneto optical drive was a $5k drive. The “brick” multi-processor PowerPC that runs NeXTSTEP 3.3 in Apple Engineering showed where NeXT was back in 1994. The NeXTStation Turbo Color was ahead of its competition. The tools were ahead of their competitors. Regarding the Mac system 6 vs. NS 3.3 comparison, you have to be a complete dullard to make the call for that Mac system. I’ll take a Unix system over System 6 any damn day of the week. The nostalgia is great and was even better working at NeXT. Working at Apple wasn’t as challenging nor enjoyable.