Steve Jobs made history with his spat with Apple. He produced a new line of computers at NeXT Computers in 1985. His innovations there led to a reconciliation with Apple in 1997. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, of Apple Computer fame, founded NeXT Computers.
Reasons for the Split
Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 after a power struggle with John Sculley, the CEO he had brought in to run the company. There were several factors that contributed to his departure:
Jobs and Sculley had different visions for the direction of the company. Jobs wanted to focus on innovation and creating groundbreaking products, while Sculley, with basically a bean-counter background, was more focused on maximizing profits and expanding the company’s market share.
Jobs was demanding and often confrontational in his management style, which led to conflicts with other executives at Apple.
Jobs felt that he was losing control over the company he had co-founded, as the board of directors and other executives began to take a more hands-on role in decision-making.
NeXT Business Model
NeXT Inc., was a computer hardware and software company focused on higher-end computers for businesses. The partnership between Jobs and Wozniak at Apple had driven the development of the first two models of the Macintosh, one of the world’s first commercially successful personal computer. NeXT set out to provide a compatibility bridge between the Apple Operating Systems and those of IBM PC clones, such as Compaq.
The first Next computer was the NeXTcube. It was introduced in 1988, and was the first NeXT computer to hit the market. It featured a 25 MHz Motorola 68030 processor, 8 MB of RAM, a 1.4 MB floppy drive and 120 MB hard drive, and a unique optical storage medium, the NeXT D-25. It shipped with the NeXTSTEP operating system, one of the earliest, if not the first, operating systems based on the UNIX operating system.
The NeXTcube was designed with a high level of expandability, making it popular with software developers. It supported up to 128 MB of RAM, and had a dedicated memory slot and a second processor slot. This made it a popular platform for scientific and engineering applications. The NeXTstation debuted in 1990. It was similar to the NeXTcube, but featured a less expensive price and a more compact design.
The NeXTstation featured a 25 MHz Motorola 68040 processor and had 8 MB of RAM and a 250 MB hard drive. It had no internal expansion slots and had only 128 MB of RAM. In 1991, NeXT released the NeXTcube Turbo, which was a faster version of the NeXTcube with a 33 MHz Motorola 68040 processor and 16 MB of RAM. It had two internal expansion slots and could support up to 256 MB of RAM. This was the first NeXT computer to support the NeXTSTEP 4.2 operating system, released in late 1991.
NeXT Leading Up to the Merger
In 1993, NeXT released the NeXTcube II, the second and final model of the NeXTcube lineup. It had a 33 MHz Motorola 68040 processor, 16 MB of RAM, and a 500 MB hard drive. It had two internal expansion slots and could support up to 256 MB of RAM. It also shipped with the NeXTSTEP 4.2 operating system. In 1993, NeXT released the NeXTstation Color, the first color monitor available for the NeXT platform. It featured a 17-inch monitor and 4 MB of VRAM. It shipped with a color version of the NeXTSTEP 4.2 operating system.
The final NeXT computer was the NeXTcube Turbo Color. It was the same as the NeXTcube Turbo, but featured a color version of the NeXTSTEP 5.1 operating system. It shipped with 8 MB of RAM and supported up to 256 MB. NeXT computers were very expensive compared to other personal computers of the time, and did not become popular with consumers. However, they found success in the scientific and engineering community, due to their robust expandability and their well-known operating system, NeXTSTEP.
Kiss and Make Up
In 1997, Apple struggled and faced declining sales and market share. The company’s board of directors decided to bring Jobs back to Apple as an advisor, and he quickly took on a more active role in the company’s management. Jobs was able to return to Apple because:
By 1997, John Sculley had left Apple. A series of CEOs replaced him, but were unable to turn the company around. The board of directors recognized that Jobs was a visionary leader with a proven track record of success.
Apple needed a new direction and fresh ideas. Jobs was able to bring his experience and creativity to the company, and he quickly began to shake things up.
Jobs played a key role in several strategic acquisitions that helped Apple to expand its product line and reach new markets, including the purchase of NeXT and the development of the iPod and iTunes.
Therefore, in 1997, Apple Computer acquired NeXT, essentially bringing Steve Jobs back to the company he had co-founded. Although NeXT computers ceased being produced, the NeXTSTEP operating system became the basis of the Mac OS X operating system, which is still in use today. The NeXTcube and NeXTstation still operate in some engineering and scientific organizations and are considered by many to be the precursor to today’s modern desktop computers.
- Year Started: 1985
- Year Ended: 1997
- Origin Of Name: Name connotes forward-looking innovation
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: Apple Computers
- Owner Original: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
- Owner While In Use: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
- Owner Successor: Apple Computers
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Apple Computers
- Naics Code: 334111
- Location Headquarters: Redwood City, California, United States