Steve Jobs is known for elegant hardware but in the case of the NeXT Computer the beauty was more than skin deep.
The NeXT Cube was a beautiful object whose operation exceeded the outward appearance.
This NeXT Cube was going to make history, but it would be shunned from being part of history. Until now. Come with us, as Michael Baldwin tells us the true story of how NeXT was a pinnacle of excellence —and how ultimately NeXT set the stage for, and became the stand-in talent behind Apple rising to new heights.
Now, AppStorey tells us the true and untold story behind history’s greatest computer and how this one machine is responsible for the modern mobile computing world we live in today.
NeXT was a thing of beauty, it was even ‘Sexy’ which, in 1990 was not a word people were associating with any computer.
This NeXT Cube was clearly a special computer, everything about it spoke to this.
For the logo, Steve wanted the best. It was the famous and brilliant graphic designer, Paul Rand who had designed the IBM logo, as well as brands like UPS and ABC. Paul was not a designer who would answer the call of a “startup”, he was well known to be the best of his generation and he knew this more than anyone. Steve Jobs sold Paul Rand on doing the NeXT logo, and Paul sold Steve a fixed cost artwork sight unseen. The logo would be $100,000 and entirely a take-it-or-leave-it, no option of adjustment.
For the outside design of the NeXT Cube’s case itself, the computer’s physical shape was personally crafted by Hartmut Esslinger and frogdesign, a hardware design studio that was the gold standard in high-end Silicon Valley workstations and prestigious computers.
Michael is also an author on presentation theory, design and communication, his experiences with Steve Jobs and NeXT have shaped his view on the business of design and communication and his new book, Just Add Water shows just how much design speaks to the entire enterprise about the value of Quality and the product they are making. https://www.amazon.com/Just-Add-Water-Michael-Baldwin/dp/1941758282 “Michael Baldwin’s Just Add Water is dedicated to putting the focus―and the power―of every presentation back where it belongs: with the presenter. It is a rediscovery of how to transform dense, ineffective presentations into ones that can actually inspire: clarify thinking, improve the quality of decision-making, and close deals”
“When you combine unlimited budget with exquisite taste” —explains Michael About simple beauty of NeXT “The single cable from the printer or the monitor…”
Finally, it was the beauty of the inside, the software design. Again Steve Jobs found a brilliant and unique combination of talents. Jean-Marie Hullot had created a way to tame the complexities of graphical interfaces using an Interface Builder [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interface_Builder]. (A tool that remains part of the essential programmer tools used in iPhone apps today) [https://developer.apple.com/xcode/interface-builder] along with Bertrand Serlet, who created an object-oriented Workspace Manager plus Avadis “Avie” Tevanian who brought a personalized view of Berkeley’s Mach UNIX together with the Objective-C programming language.
These tools and technologies brought the uniquely uniform experience of NeXTSTEP together with the power and networking of UNIX. The first truly object-oriented computer with extraordinary foresight, beauty and design. The software design structure or AppKit remains the basis and foundation of all graphic computing today.
Famously, Steve Jobs reported that his father, Paul Jobs, was a carpenter and cabinet maker who told a child-aged Steve that the back of the cabinet mattered, even if nobody would ever see it. Steve felt that if you were to make a beautiful product from inside and outside both, that when you see the visible portion, you feel the invisible part is equally well designed.
For Steve, the only way to package a computer like the NeXT Cube’s object-oriented construction was to make a svelte black cube that was simply the most elegant and sophisticated looking computer anyone had seen. This machine said “powerful” though and though. People called the design “Sexy” which was not a word previously associated with a computer.
“Steve was a champion of usable technology, even sexy technology,” says NeXT programmer and inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee
The Web was entirely Invented on NeXT and It’s important to note that NeXT is where the App Store was invented as well. The web and App Store are the legs upon which the modern computing world stands upon —the web to transfer data freely between computers, and the App Store to protect digital rights online. These two inventions were both created on NeXT during the early. 1990s
“it relates to the beauty and elegance of the operating system”. —reports Michael Baldwin for AppStorey “that’s what he sold to Gil Amelio (Apple)”
This one computer would become the most broadly influential innovation producer of the 20th Century.
Now. Today, for the first time, the true and untold story of the digital revolution, history’s greatest computer and the technologies that engineers created which changed the world, is finally being told.
Please join us on this journey of passion and innovation!