Steve Jobs and NeXT: Genesis of the new Apple

“I was formally introduced to NeXT when Steve Jobs visited the offices of InfoWorld in San Mateo, Calif.–where I worked as a reporter in the early 1990s,” Brooke Crothers reports for CNET. “Surprisingly, not many people attended his session. (Or maybe it’s not that surprising since Jobs and NeXT were perceived at that time to be on the skids.)”

“The small audience (and it was a relatively small conference room, to boot) didn’t seem to faze Jobs, though,” Crothers reports. “He screamed for 30 minutes or so–that’s how I remember it–about how great the NeXTSTEP operating system was, implying that only idiots wouldn’t be able to see this.”

Crothers reports, “Big players like IBM and Sun Microsystems had initially bought into the software but the hardware was eschewed (or ignored) largely by the public. Microsoft’s CEO Bill Gates didn’t help matters when he said the computer was ‘crap,’ according to Walter Isaacson’s biography ‘Steve Jobs.’ And when asked by Jobs to write software for it, Gates said, ‘Develop for it? I’ll piss on it,’ according to InfoWorld, which Isaacson quotes in his book.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: NeXTSTEP formed the basis for Mac OS X and, of course, iOS. So, whose OSes are pissing on whose now, Billy boy?

Bill Gates


  1. NeXT was so far ahead of the time. Lookup what the alternative was at the time. Some lucky ones had a mac, but the majority were spending the day in front of windows 2.0 and D.O.S. In early 90’s NeXT had lots of things people take for granted now. It was expensive.

    1. windows 2.0 and D.O.S.

      Which is to say, DOS. No one except geek masochists used Windows 1 or 2.

      That said, somewhere in my house I have a set of Windows 1 floppies, which I never installed. I did load them to a geek masochist friend who tried it; as I recall, he uninstalled it shortly there after.

    2. One big reason NEXT was expensive is that Jobs was not allowed to compete on the lower end of the computing spectrum with Macintosh because of the severance agreement with Apple.

      1. You’d be surprised how few people remember or talk about this. Even the pundits from the Apple corner don’t often remember/mention the Apple lawsuit against Steve and NeXT, and talk ad nauseum how NeXT was Steve’s one great failure due to being costly. It was priced to be uncompetitive in the same market as the already pricey Macs, as negotiated between Apple and Jobs. NeXT wasn’t a PC, and was more reimagining of the workstations.

  2. @MDN Take:

    OS X and iOS are now Pissing on:
    1. Windows
    2. Android
    3. Windows Phone
    4. All Linux Flavors
    5. Chrome OS
    6. Others that are too numerous to put here.

    1. Not so fast, dinjin201…You can dump on Windows and the others as much as you want. But Linux?

      Apple has retreated somewhat from OS X Server and does not even use it in Apple data centers. So Linux is still a partner OS in a server role.

  3. IBM, Sun, Microsoft, etc couldn’t see it, huh. More examples of just how limited people who reach the top of the corporate ladder can be. I remember talking with my software engineer nephew at the release of OSX, “Unix that grandma can use; imagine the implications of that!”

  4. I think NeXT was a cool research project. I say research project because it never went mainstream in its own right but did go on to be the foundation of os x and ios. Jobs also grew as a person and CEO preparing himself for his eventual return to Apple.

    Imho the Amiga had everyone beat in thelate 80s and early 90a when it came to a great home computer.

      1. The original game editing tools were coded in obj-c on next. The game engine was written in ANSI-C and first compiled using Intel’s DOS C compiler.

        The game was never released for NeXT to my knowledge.

    1. That could ONLY be if:
      a) you didn´t have enough money to buy the Mac
      b) you – for some other reason – did not have a Mac
      c) you were a hopeless tech geek who didn´t use any of the applications for the computer, but wrote your own.

      d) you are just simply clueless

      The Amiga was nice when it came to video. In everything else, it came nowhere near the Mac (much due to the fact that the software was crap.)

      1. The amiga def rocked for video.

        It also beat the pants off everything for gaming back in the day.

        There was a lot of Amiga software for home use back then but it took off over in europe far greater than the US.

        Commodore were idiots and managed that company right into the ground along with everything else.

      2. You’ve either got a short memory, or have a serious crack habit.

        Had Commodore been able to market their way out of a paper bag, at the very least, Apple as we know them today wouldn’t exist. The Amiga trumped the Mac in every conceivable way and just about every other platform up until the mid 90’s. And there was plenty of great software for it.

        Name another platform that had full, pre-emptive multitasking, true multimedia capabilities, could display in high res, had support for thousands of simultaneous on-screen colors and a full GUI in 1985 – and for a fraction of the cost of most Macs and PCs.

        Nothing touched the Amiga up until about 1992 or so, and even then, wasn’t as fast in practive- even with a lowly 680×0 CPU.

      3. On the contrary, there was lots of good software for the Amiga… including Mac emulation that allowed the Amiga to run as a Mac FASTER than an equivalent processor Mac due to the co-processors of the Amiga. I had a 25MHz Mac, sitting next to my 25MHz Amiga emulating the Mac, both running the same OS… and the Amiga was invariably finished doing the identical task before the Mac finished.

        The Amiga had Wordperfect, and several other excellent word processors… For page layout, it had Pagestream that blew the doors off PageMaker (I know, I used it and got contracts over users of Pagemaker and Quark)… and I am still looking for a Mandlebrot set generator on the Mac that is the equivalent of the Amiga’s Mand2000! Nothing comes even close… even today. The Amiga could switch resolutions in mid screen… and back… I have yet to see that done from any other computer.

        It had pre-emptive multitasking when all other personal computers were either non-multitasking or were co-operative multitasking, requiring the software to be written to be multitasking… usually poorly. The Amiga was designed with co-processing for specific tasks in mind… and it used it effectively.

        Commodore was excellent at marketing… it’s failing was that it was taken over by an investment banker who was much more interested in churning the value of its stock than in actually selling product… It was fascinating watching the announcements and the timing and the insider short sales that took place around those announcements. Irving Gould allowed it the control of his stock sales to get away from him and the stock dropped below $1 a share and it got de-listed from the NYSE… and C= went in to receivership. A friend of mine was one of the three qualified bidders on the remains of Commodore at the bankruptcy auction.

  5. I saw a NEXT machine in action. The software was absolutely great, the graphic interface was something to behold. However, the machine itself didn’t have a hard drive; it was an optical writable drive which was slow, which didn’t help matters, and probably added to the cost at the time. But it was great news when NextSTEP was adopted by Apple as the basis of OS X, its new operating system, and that was the basis for Apple’s renewal. The BeOS was rejected, and work discontinued on its in-house OS (Copeland & Gershwin) which never saw the light of day. Apple has never looked back.

  6. Was working for a Mac developer in the late 80’s and got to go to ‘The NeXT Day’ event after the public keynote announcement. My most vivid memory was of Mr. Jobs spending an inordinate amount of time defending the lack of a floppy to a very strange mix of Silicon Valley folks. This was a full 10 years before the official floppy death occurred with the release of the iMac. It was a very deliberate move to an early magneto/optical drive tech that had problems and didn’t survive, but Mr. J obviously saw as moving to the future. The hardware was way behind what they had done with NeXTSTEP, even with the extra Motorola DSP chip and other advanced features. That cube allowed some folks at CCRMA (and others like Berners-Lee) to do some really amazing work but it just wasn’t powerful enough to be workstation class at that time… just an 68030! Second gen had an 040 and floppy plus early CD-ROM. The OS was truly groundbreaking and it is a highlight memory of my tech career having been there for the developer launch.

  7. I worked for a Fortune 100 healthcare company and we were heavily invested in the development of a Data Management System using NeXT. We believed in OOC as a faster way to get to market and better control software in an FDA regulated environment. My only regret was not meeting Steve when he came for a visit.

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