After he was ousted from Apple Computer in 1985, Steve Jobs‘ pet project (alongside Pixar) was the NeXT computer. Jobs wanted to build a cheap supercomputer for academics and scientists who were frustrated by timesharing on mainframe systems they were then using. This was Jobs’ attempt to set a new standard in computing as the pace of innovation in the industry slowed.
The NeXT operating system and development environment were superior, using nascent object technology which let users assemble their own applications simply and easily. The NeXT system also employed Motorola processors that were faster than any Mac or PC and used optical disk storage. All this was packaged in a die-cast magnesium cube designed by Hartmut Esslinger.
The NeXT computer was the device on which Tim Berners-Lee developed a system for linking academics across the internet using hypertext, which became known as the World Wide Web. “The NeXT interface was beautiful, smooth and consistent,” said Berners-Lee, and “it also had software to create a hypertext program”.
In 1989, when Steve Jobs was questioned over delays to the launch of NeXT he replied: “Late? This computer is five years ahead of its time.”