On the Creation of NeXT

Next logo paul rand

My mini-series on NeXT Computer:

Installment 1: On the Creation of NeXT

Installment 2: NeXT: The Hardware

Installment 3: NeXT: The Software

Installment 4: NeXT: The Apple Purchase

Installment 5: Why Did NeXT Fail?




With the Steve Jobs biography being read this week by just about every nerd I know, NeXT is coming up in conversations more and more. Today, I’m starting a mini-series on the company and its products.


NeXT was formed by Steve Jobs after he was kicked out of Apple in 1985.

While still at Apple, Jobs created the Apple University Consortium to help get the Macintosh into schools across the country. Its mission statement was:

To enhance and increase computing technology on campus, provide low-cost computing to the University community and, in conjunction with Apple, further develop Apple products and share experiences amongst other tertiary education institutions.

NeXT — in many ways — was Jobs’ effort to keep the AUC alive. Joined by former Apple engineers including Bud Tribble, George Crow, Rich Page, Susan Barnes, Susan Kare, and Dan’l Lewin, he formed Next, Inc to build the computers for the high-end educational market.

Apple, of course, wasn’t thrilled that its co-founder had started a competing company with lots of former Apple employees, and sued the fledging company for “nefarious schemes” to take advantage of the cofounders’ insider information. Jobs replied to the lawsuit, saying:

It is hard to think that a $2 billion company with 4,300-plus people couldn’t compete with six people in blue jeans.

The suit was dismissed before it made it to trial.

In 1987, Ross Perot invested $20 million — in exchange for 16% of NeXT’s stock. The next year, he joined the board of directors.

The Logo

In 1986, Jobs hired graphic designer Paul Rand to create a brand identity for Next, Inc. Read all about it over at Imprint.

Hardware & Software

Originally, NeXT was just going to focus on hardware, but in mid–1986, the company decided it had to build its own software as well. Avadis Tevanian led the OS project, basing his work on the Mach kernel. But more on the hardware and software next time…