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NeXTSTEP To Mac OS X 328

Posted by timothy
from the after-all-these-years dept.
*no comment* writes "the folks over at OSviews have a nicely done article that explains the evolution of NeXTSTEP into Mac OS X. 'With the beginning of 1996, Apple realized that with the next generation PC's running Windows NT to be released within the decade, they would need a new, modern operating system to run on their machines. ... Amongst Apple's other options were to license Solaris from Sun, NT from Microsoft, or to purchase a small net services company called NeXT. Apple chose the latter.'" OSNews had another nice Mac-oriented look at NeXTSTEP last year; the Wikipedia entry is also worth looking through.
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NeXTSTEP To Mac OS X

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  • Someone didn't do their homework!
    • by ikewillis (586793) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:38PM (#10803466) Homepage
      By 1996 WebObjects was pretty much all NeXT had left after sales of NeXT and NeXT systems had plummeted to vitually nil.
      • by NightLamp (556303) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @01:00AM (#10805215) Journal
        WebObjects is still alive and kicking, at my company we use it for all manner of things. It has become a real workhorse and continues to evolve capability-wise and mature in terms of stability. As a J2EE certified platform (last time I checked), the thing that I find most overlooked about the package is its built-in GUI a la Dreamweaver, it is, however, much more effective at visualizing/previewing dynamic pages with active data than the Macromedia product. If you are developing database-tied web sites with Java you owe it to yourself to check out Apple WebObjects. (It is not strictly tied to the Apple platform BTW) Of all the J2EE APIs I have used it is by far the most friendly, due to a code-quality pedigree inherited from NeXT and extensively re-factored ObjectiveC MVC structures. thanks Steve, et. al. (the built-in multi-schema load-balancer is a nice finishing touch ;) /* Can you tell your JVM controller to re-start (and pass off extant sessions to other instances) your application instances to account for what could (at any time) be(come) a buggy JVM by clicking on a check-box on an HTML config page? A non-elegant but eminently practical solution for inexplicable java memory leaks is built in to this package. I call Nice. Check it out. */ TTFN.
      • by klui (457783)
        And what a killer-app. Dell was using WebObjects until Apple purchased NeXT. Rumor has it that it took Microsoft a lot of effort to replace WebObjects.
    • by michaeldot (751590) on Friday November 12, 2004 @11:29PM (#10804864)

      NeXT built Dell's first web store for them (for the princely sum of $100,000 I believe, though now I doubt Michael Dell would even buy a car worth less than that).

      Of course, once NeXT was subsumed by Apple, the WebObjects store had to be replaced for political reasons, at a much higher cost.

  • Screenshots (Score:5, Informative)

    by LiNKz (257629) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:22PM (#10803330) Homepage Journal
    For awhile I was in search of the x86 version of Apple's Rhapsody DR2. Finally after speaking to a guy [toastytech.com] who created a page of screenshots [toastytech.com], I found a beta software trading forum and grabbed an ISO of it. This guy also has screenshots of OpenStep [toastytech.com] too.. He's been running this site for years and its given me quite a nice look into the past. Its interesting never the less :)
    • Re:Screenshots (Score:5, Interesting)

      by necro2607 (771790) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:26PM (#10803368)
      I got a copy of Rhapsody DR2 as well. It worked fine on my Intel Celeron 400mhz machine but I couldn't get my screenshots off the Rhapsody machine and onto my main desktop machine! It wouldn't read DOS formatted disks, and the networking didn't work...

      So I just took some photos with my digital camera...

      Either way the UI was totally cool. I wish Mac OS X looked more like Rhapsody, or even better, NeXT..
    • Re:Screenshots (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tonywong (96839) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:33PM (#10803809) Homepage
      From what I've seen, I think the biggest loss of the move from nextstep to openstep to cocoa has been the loss of nxhost. It's VNC, windows terminal services and X Windows all rolled into one.

      For those not familiar with nxhost, here it is from http://www.channelu.com/NeXT/NeXTFAQ-new/NeXTFAQ.0 46.html

      4.3 How do I run NextApps remotely?
      Remote running
      On the local machine make sure you have public window server access, this is set from the Preferences application. On the foreign NeXT machine run the application from a terminal window with the -NXHost . Both machines should be running the same version of NeXTstep.
  • Yeah, right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El (94934) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:23PM (#10803336)
    And of course, the choice of NeXTStep had nothing to do with Next also being owned by Steve Jobs!
    • Hey, he had to do *something* with those $10k NEXT boxes.

      Wonder what they go for on eBay now...
      • Re:Yeah, right... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by javaxman (705658) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:38PM (#10803461) Journal
        I dunno what they go for on eBay, but were they ever really $10k?? I thought they were more along the lines of $2-5k... and I should know. ;-)... maybe the dual-color-cubes could get up to $10k??

        Some guy on ebay is selling an empty cube [ebay.com], though, and it's already up to $78.

        I bought my NeXT slab, monitor and laser printer for $150 or so from a coworker a few years ago...

        No working systems are on ebay, though ( mine works ). And there seems to be some weird thing where these machines don't have their logos attached, what's that all about?

        Anyway, NeXT had stopped making those boxes long before 1996 ( it was more like 1992-1993 that happened ), it's likely that a lot of folks at NeXT were using NeXTStep for Intel by 1996... now, where did I put my copy of NeXTStep for Intel?? Darn it...

        • Re:Yeah, right... (Score:5, Informative)

          by bobalu (1921) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:01PM (#10803627)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NeXT

          The machines weren't ready for "real" sales until 1990, when they went on the market for $9999.

          Guess my memory isn't completely shot yet. :-)

          • Re:Yeah, right... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by javaxman (705658)
            The machines weren't ready for "real" sales until 1990, when they went on the market for $9999.

            What's that mean, 'real' sales?

            I know I went to a nice university, but we had NeXT machines in pretty good numbers by 1991... I can't believe they were actually that much... then again, a hard drive was pretty pricy back then, I bet you could easily configure a machine at that price! But, uh, I'd take that number with a grain of salt, it's not like they sold only one model, and that's a wiki entry with no source

        • Re:Yeah, right... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Metzli (184903) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:34PM (#10803817)
          Actually, they were. Back in 1997 I had the pleasure of working with the NeXT machines in my roommates' labs. The Cadillac of their machines was a NeXT Dimension with 128MB RAM, 128MB video RAM, a 21" color display, a black-and-white laser printer, a color printer, a scanner, and a soundbox. I saw teh P.O. and that setup was about $18k. They had the lesser machines, a trio of Mono Turbos, alongside it. After working with that, going back home and using my 286 was _painful_.
    • by Sneeper (182316) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:45PM (#10803894)
      I always thought that Apple bought Next because Steve was CEO of both at the time. But the article says that the Apple board chose Next and then brought on Steve as a consultant. Steve then convinced the board to give him more power. The board made him interim CEO and gave him the task of hiring the real CEO.

      His acceptance speach probably went like this:
      "It is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling. I love Apple... I love MacOS 9. But I am mild by nature, and I do not desire to see the destruction of Apple. The power you give me I will lay down when this crisis has abated, I promise you! And as my first act with this new authority, I will create a grand new OS to counter the increasing threats of the Redmonds."
      • Re:Yeah, right... (Score:3, Informative)

        by jcr (53032)
        Well, to be precise: Gil Amelio chose NeXT over Be, on Ellen Hancock's recommendation. When the board decided that Gil wasn't really cutting it w/r/t marketing, they let him go, and then did a full-court press to get Steve Jobs to serve as the interim CEO.

        -jcr
    • by Jayzz (540605) on Friday November 12, 2004 @09:23PM (#10804218)
      The CEO of Apple then was Gil Amelio. The decision was made by him not by Jobs. Jobs sure persuaded Amelio to buy NeXT, but he was not a part of Apple at that time. Jobs was brought to Apple as a part of the deal.
      • by pchan- (118053) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @02:39AM (#10805530) Journal
        The purchase of NeXT was far more a purchase of Jobs than it was of the actual technology. Amelio was pushing for the acquisition Be Inc's BeOS and turning that into the next MacOS. remember, at the time Apple had a 10 year streak of failures trying to modernize the OS, starting with Copland and ending with Rhapsody. System7 was supposed to be the last non-memory protected, cooperative multitasking MacOS, but then they released 8 and 9 while their new projects floundered. I think far more likely, the board of directors at Apple decided that they need someone who could steer the company and push out a modern OS, as well as reinvigorate the product line. I'm not a big fan of Jobs, but there is no doubt he saved Apple.
    • Re:Yeah, right... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drsmithy (35869)
      Many people feel that it was Jobs Apple was buying back and NeXT was just a nice bonus.
  • Imagine how things would be today in the computing world if Apple had licensed NT... I'm very thankful they chose NeXT, especially seeing as how much their decision has influenced home computing technology and especially Apple themselves. We wouldn't have Mac OS X today if it wasn't for that decision. Who knows if Mac OS would even exist still?
  • NT? (Score:4, Funny)

    by plj (673710) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:23PM (#10803340)
    Amongst Apple's other options were to license (-- --) NT from Microsoft

    Ouch. The thought alone makes me vomit...
    • Re:NT? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The NT kernel was mostly designed by a team a DEC engineers [wikipedia.org] (including Dave Cutler) bought out by microsoft after they couldn`t design the os the wanted at DEC. (They worked on VMS). The NT kernel design is imho the only piece of software developed somewhat within microsoft but still with an actual design behind it. Compared to the patch upon patch shell, office, mail stuff, servers that arent bought from elseware and of course browser... the NT kernel is based on a vision. It has a microkernel-ish design,

    • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @10:34PM (#10804598)
      NT's underlying kernel and architecture is considered one of the most advanced and stable out there. If you hate the crap on top of it, fine. But VMS and its descendent NT are arguably better kernels than Linux has turned out to be (so far).

      But I guess whatever it takes to get you karma on Slashdot.
  • BeOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tootired (91527) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:24PM (#10803347) Homepage
    While I am a huge fan of MacOS X, I wonder what would have happened if they bought Be and used their cash to evolve it instead of ressurecting NeXT?

    It's true that Apple currently employs several key Be developers, but I think the Mac platform would eb even further ahead if they went with Be.

    Just my .02
    • Re:BeOS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:28PM (#10803392)
      It means that I, for one, would not be using a Mac right now. The UNIX-ness is important to me.

      I think they should have bought both, though -- maybe they would have come out with Spotlight sooner.
      • Re:BeOS (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rude Turnip (49495)
        BeOS was UNIX-ish. It was working towards POSIX compliance IIRC and has a Bash shell and Unix-like file permissions system set up. It had the ability to become multi-user if it was developed further.
        • Re:BeOS (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pohl (872) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:28PM (#10803783) Homepage
          Emphasis on the "ish". It was not yet capable of multiple, simultaneous users. I think Apple did the right thing by going with a mature kernel. It meant that there was a metric shit-ton of work that they did not have to do.
      • Re:BeOS (Score:3, Informative)

        by prockcore (543967)
        It means that I, for one, would not be using a Mac right now. The UNIX-ness is important to me.

        BeOS is posix compatible, has all the GNU tools you expect and the default shell is based on Bash.

        BeOS was heavily influenced by XINU.
    • Re:BeOS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kenja (541830) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:39PM (#10803468)
      "I think the Mac platform would eb even further ahead if they went with Be."

      As a licensed BeOS devloper who still has a Rev2 BeBox sitting around I must say you're wrong. BeOS was NEVER as far along as Nextstep was even when taking into acount the hardware transition. BeOS had poor to no network or print servies. We where promissed that they would be released "real soon now" for years. Granted what Be had was better then the same stuff on Next. But Be lacked a lot of very important stuff.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Saturday November 13, 2004 @01:33AM (#10805312)
      Instead of paying too much for Be, the tactic them seem to have used is hire good people from Be and have them work on parts of OSX. Thus you get things like the former BeOS file system designer creating Spotlight.
    • Re:BeOS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032)
      I wonder what would have happened if they bought Be and used their cash to evolve it instead of ressurecting NeXT?

      They'd be gone by now. BeOS was a long, long way from done.

      -jcr
    • Re:BeOS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Senjaz (188917) on Monday November 15, 2004 @07:07AM (#10818577) Homepage
      While BeOS was very advanced in some areas at the time Apple was looking at buying it it was sorely lacking in others. Areas like localisation, language services and typography. Despite this it was still an attractive proposition, but Jean-Louise and co. killed it by being too greedy. Believing that they were Apple's only real option to get out of its mess they asked for more money than they were worth.

      As it happened Apple chose to buy NeXT instead and paid even more for them. I believe that Be were offering themselves for $300M and that NeXT was bought for $400M.

      At the end of it all I think that Apple totally made the right choice. Steve returned the focus needed for Apple to succeed again. OpenStep provided a very solid foundation for Mac OS X, arguably a better one than BeOS, then Apple managed to acquire a number of key people from Be who have helped add some of the show case BeOS technologies into Mac OS X. In essence it got both.

      If you look at where we are now with the current builds of 10.4 with CoreImage, CoreData and Spotlight it's difficult to imagine that things could have worked out better if Apple had gone with Be. Certainly the dev tools inherited and evolved from NeXT have enabled Apple to develop the OS at a faster rate than the competition and they've managed with with less resources.
  • I can't be the only one who thought it was a mistake for Apple to forgoe purchasing Be and instead go with NeXT, but it doesn't appear to have worked out too bad for Apple now.
  • Well, a couple of weeks ago, I tried to install Rhapsody DR2 on an x86 box and also using an emulator. Unfortunately, I couldn't get started since the CD isn't bootable and the filesystem isn't ISO9660.
    Does anyone know where I can get floppy images?
    Thanks in advance.

  • NeXT background (Score:5, Informative)

    by close_wait (697035) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:26PM (#10803369)
    purchase a small net services company called NeXT

    They fail to mention that NeXT was the company set up by Steve Jobs after he left apple, with the mission to produce a next-generation Mac-like workstation with an OS called NeXTstep, based on mach, BSD and display Postscript

    • The funny thing is that NeXT was about 15 years ahead of its time... NeXT failed then, but OS X is a success story today. I wish the same thing could be said for the Delorean Motor Car... :^)
  • by singularity (2031) * <nowalmart AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:30PM (#10803403) Homepage Journal
    The blurb is not quite complete. Apple decided it did not have time to develop a next-generation operating system. Copland was pretty much dead in the water.

    At the time, also available was the BeOS. A lot of Mac die-hards at the time, myself included, thought that Apple purchasing Be and using that would make the most sense.

    From my memory, I seem to remember that Be wanted more money than Apple was willing to spend. It could have also had something to do with the fact that the head of Be, Jean Louis Gassée, was a former Apple man and there was probably some politics there. In addition, NeXT had Steve Jobs and all the personality that went along with that.

    I would be interested in reading some of the discussions that went along with passing up Be in favor of NeXT.

    It would be interesting reading to see what might have developed out of a Macintosh + Be combination (as opposed to the Macintosh + NeXT we have now).
    • The choice. (Score:5, Informative)

      by juuri (7678) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:37PM (#10803455) Homepage
      BeOS was a nonstarter.

      The printing was horrid.

      The development environment was awful, contrasted to the robust tools available on NeXTSTEP at the time.

      NeXT had real mult-user capability. BeOS was only brought in as a bargaining chip and to entice Jobs to come onboard. BeOS at the time was really impressive on a Mac, especially if you couldn't stomach MacOS... but I ran BeOS @work and NeXTSTEP @home, the choice was readily apparent to people who actually used both systems.
      • by artemis67 (93453) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:00PM (#10803619)
        ...was that JLG kept jacking up the price. He saw that Apple was running out of time and options, and thought that Be was the only viable option for Apple at that point. I think that his attitude left Gil Amelio and the rest of the Apple board cold.

        Of course, Apple spent far more to acquire NeXT, but they got Steve Jobs along with it, which was easily worth as much as the operating system.

        Can you imagine JLG as Apple CEO, trying to push fruity-colored iMacs? It just wouldn't have happened...
      • Re:The choice. (Score:3, Informative)

        by jcr (53032)
        BeOS was only brought in as a bargaining chip and to entice Jobs to come onboard.

        No, BeOS was very seriously considered. It was the front runner before Hancock started evaluating NeXTSTEP.

        -jcr
    • by KurtP (64223) on Friday November 12, 2004 @09:13PM (#10804161)
      Well, Hank, I was the guy who wrote the report at Apple that recommended we buy NeXT. It was a simple choice, really, between Be and NeXTStep. NeXT had a much more complete offering, with actual commercial developers who had written really good stuff for it. Even better, it had had a number of releases, and had a mature system for handling version upgrades. Be, as many people will recall, tended to need an application recompile for every new version, and there way no obvious simple way to solve the problem. NeXT had a mature and battle tested kernel, and a real BSD layer, neither of which could really be said of Be at the time.

      We considered a lot of other OSes. We looked at NT, but it looked like it would never be practical to port to a big-endian processor. We looked at Solaris, and it was a serious contender. There was no decent UI layer, though, by the standards we used to judge such things. Remember that things like KDE and GNOME were quite young and immature at the time.

      Getting back Steve was a plus for the company, but wasn't a part of our deliberations as technical folks. NeXT Looked like the best technical choice, really. Linux was simply too young in 1996 to be a serious cnsideration, even though Apple had an internal mkLinux project.

      Who knows what it might have been today, given a new shot at choosing. But back then, there was nothing that stood up to NeXT given the constraints of Apple's business.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        >big-endian porting?

        What are you talking about. Windows NT 3.5 ran on IBM CHRP systems like the RS/6000 43P on a PowerPC 601; what about that would be big-endian unhappy?. 43P could run OS/2, AIX, or NT.
      • BS Detector Beeping (Score:5, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday November 13, 2004 @12:38AM (#10805132) Homepage Journal
        We considered a lot of other OSes. We looked at NT, but it looked like it would never be practical to port to a big-endian processor.

        I was reading with great interest 'till I got here. Just to make sure I hadn't gone mad, I grabbed my NT4 cd from the bookshelf. I hadn't. I scanned the CD [bfccomputing.com] for this comment.

        So, either you're putting us on, had an excusable brain-fart, or we're talking Apples and Oranges. Pick a card any card.

        Assuming you're just getting old like the rest of us, perhaps you can shed some light as to whether the mkLinux's Mach microkernel was considered either a proof-of-concept or an enabling technology when it came to porting OpenStep to Macintosh.
        • by KurtP (64223) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:46AM (#10806785)
          No, I'm not kidding, nor was it a brain-fart. The problem with BS detectors in the presence of too little information is that they sometimes lead you astray in a big way.

          There's a lot more to getting an OS ported than just porting the kernel and a few system apps. Just because you can recompile for a platform doesn't make it commercially viable. The work to try to reorganize code so that it could run at competitive speeds on PowerPC looked pretty terrible to us. NT was terribly tied to PC architectures. It ran on other instruction sets, but they never ever caught on in a big way, remember? Ever imagine there might be a reason?

          The work to try to integrate it with existing PowerPC Mac applications looked even worse. The issues with simple things like screen sharing, and keeping multiple screens going, and so on, looked prety grim to us. The graphics models of the two platforms are quite different. And there's that horrible tendency in NT to run a graphics subsystem at the core of their kernel, which looked like a real bear to keep running on Mac hardware in anything like a stable fashion.

          And for all of this work, we would have gotten maybe a few dozen Windows developers to recompile and support it on our new platform, if we were lucky. We were looking at huge porting effort, and ongoing maintenance problems, for very little upside indeed.
      • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @03:37AM (#10805658) Journal
        NeXT had a much more complete offering, with actual commercial developers who had written really good stuff for it.

        That's a very significant point. NeXTSTEP attracted some very talented developers, like the guys at Omnigroup, Stone Designs, and Lighthouse. For that matter, the finest spreadsheet app I ever used was Lotus Improv, which debuted on NeXTSTEP. I *still* fire up a NeXT slab if I need to write a business plan or a budget.

        -jcr
    • Copland was pretty much dead in the water.

      Copland failed for reasons entirely within Apple's own control: it had the unrealistic goal of providing modern OS features to existing binaries; in other words exsiting Mac apps would be first class citizens on Copland. OS X of course requires at the bare minimum a recompile, and practically speaking a Mac app of that era required months of engineering to port over to OS X. Very different goals.

      The other reason was the unruly nature of Apple engineering at that
  • How hard would it be for Apple to choose a product from one of Steve Job's old companies [vnunet.com]?
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <<richardprice> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:35PM (#10803437)
    and found this [kernelthread.com] which looked to be fairly indepth about the history of the Mac OS, including some information on what was taken from what and went into what.
  • The NeXT big thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RealProgrammer (723725) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:39PM (#10803470) Homepage Journal
    I first used NeXTStep in about 1989, when NeXT was still a hardware company.

    NeXT made a big splash in the trade magazines by using standard UNIX industry hardware like the 680x0 processor, standard RAM, SCSI drives, etc. They did some neat stuff like having a 600M rewritable optical disk, unheard of capacity at the time. Unfortunately, no one else followed suit.

    The big thing was the apps, though. Everything was done in Postscript, and there were several desktop publishing applications. As a math student at the time, Mathematica made my jaw drop. I figured out how to use it under ASCII mode via dialup, and checked all my homework that way.

    The programming environment was interesting, though I never really delved into it. Underneath (or beside) the pretty GUI there was a 4.3BSD system with a Mach kernel. I was mostly interested in this compiler they had for it, gcc. They wanted you to copy it! And hunting around the ftp sites I found this new scripting language, perl, that was really great.

    Too bad stuff like that will never catch on.
    • by sloth jr (88200) on Friday November 12, 2004 @09:09PM (#10804134)
      I went back to school for a NeXT (this was the bargain with the missus, get a degree -> get a NeXT).

      The NeXT was QUITE interesting at the time - the 68030/40 was not a bad chip at the time, NeXT added interesting hardware like the Motorola 56000 DSP, Display Postscript was as you said very interesting, tons of custom silicon on the NeXT, interesting and for the time BLAZING fast 400dpi laser printer (there were no 600 dpi laser printers at the time). Again as you mention, the optical drives were really unique, and should have always been used as supplementary media rather than as boot media (this lesson got learned by the time of NeXT 040 and slabs). This machine tried hard to really bend what was possible.

      You are very right about the APPs - nice bundling there. Underlying OS was pretty stable - we had a pair of NeXT slabs running for 1100 days at one point that shared /usr, and we'd completely forget about them - take the network down, yank DNS and YP servers out from under them - they just didn't care, they'd keep running.

      NetInfo was way too obtuse to catch on, but a valiant effort at solving the NIS-is-crap problem, and ObjectiveC with InterfaceBuilder effectively created the RAD industry. NeXTStep was (and is, in current MacOS X implementation) quite cool, if not quite fast. To my thinking, Objective-C programming is an elegant solution to object-oriented programming (much nicer than C++), though certainly not perfect (run-time dynamic library resolution was a surprise to me, and Iwas disappointed that more invisible memory-handling features weren't provided).

      sloth jr
      • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @03:45AM (#10805689) Journal
        NetInfo was way too obtuse to catch on,

        Actually, NetInfo is a marvelous technology, and I'm rather sad to see it on the way out. At one major investment bank where I worked, five full-time sysops were able to manage about 4K workstations, globally. We used NetInfo to store app parameters, so the same app launched in Zurich came up configured rather differently than if you launched it on a workstation in Chicago.

        -jcr
    • by klui (457783) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:58PM (#10814178)
      Some corrections and clarification.

      1. The NeXT optical disk was manufactured by Canon and had a 256MB capacity per side--NeXT sold single-sided media. 256MB for removable media was huge at that time. The trouble, though, was it was slow and produced loud clunks as its head was accessing, probably due to the use of a stepper head motor. My OD drive is dead due to non-use, but I'm sure the media is still fine. I still have some double-sided media (512MB) from Canon, but you had to flip the disk.
      2. NeXT used a unified imaging model (Display Postscript for the screen and Postscript for print), but the GUI applications were written in Objective-C. Although a lot of applications have some sort of Postscript glue. Interface Builder was already a part of 1.0.
      3. Most notable at that time was the inclusion of all these academia programs such as the complete Shakespeare's works, quotes, and the unabridged Webster dictionary (a lot of companies sold abridged, so you cannot search for f..k) with audio pronounciation. For me, the most enigmatic "app" was Allegro Common LISP--didn't know what to do with that. Yes, Mathematica was jaw-dropping. Not the graphing part, but that was impressive, too. First time I saw a program that solved integrals outputting intermediate steps.

      Finally, the most powerful aspect of NeXT software architecture was its object-oriented model based on Objective-C. Obj-C's late binding was slower than C++'s early binding, but it allowed most applications to not break as the underlying framework was changed/modified/rev'ed. That was one of the problems with BeOS's C++-based OO framework at that time. You probably can have a C++ framework and not require recompiles of all your apps, but the framework would have to be very mature, something the Be framework could not be given the limited man-years it received.

      Personally, I think Apple was correct in choosing NeXT technologies because of Obj-C's battle-tested framework.
  • by EricHsu (578881) on Friday November 12, 2004 @07:44PM (#10803502)
    That's what it boils down to. You can argue technically whether BeOS could have worked (too risky, I think), or Solaris could have flown (too dependant on a rival, I think).

    Bottom line: Going NeXT saved Apple by getting Steve Jobs back and getting OS X based on Unix BSD. Steve Jobs might be a crazy man, a meglomaniac, whatever, but he has vision and taste and the drive to force others to follow his vision. The interregnum of Sculley et al was consumed with internal fighting and a zillion product teams smashing each other.

    Also, the move to NeXT helped Apple acquire OS rock-solid stability and the Alpha Geek population, as O'Reilly puts it. So now, even though market share is sitting around 5%, OS X is still guaranteed lots of cool stuff.

    And finally Tiger is going to start pulling in some of those BeOS metadata ideas...

  • by tyrione (134248) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:01PM (#10803626) Homepage
    • Steve Jobs didn't ask the board to oust Gil Amelio (I know I know, working there had me not seeing the forrest for the trees). Steve's frustrations resided in the fact that Gil didn't listen to his advice on what to do with the direction of the company: What's the point of being a Special Consultant if your years of experience in this industry gets ignored? He was fed up and was ready to spend more time at PIXAR, which really doesn't like Steve's nitpicking but just his skill at negotiation. Fred Anderson came to Steve and asked him to return--his trump to Steve was they already wanted to get rid of Gil. Steve insisted on being able to revamp the board and begin by settling the Microsoft bad public relations.
    • We at NeXT were in the middle of filing for an IPO as a WebObjects Enterprise Company. We lost one hell of a CFO during the merger.
    • NeXT Engineers began working with the Linux team at Apple to piggy back a non-commercially released version of Openstep onto PowerPC architecture. The idiot wars to parallel what the OS should be and not be have continued since 1997. In two more releases we'll finally get an OS that all the Mac Zealots will accept actually was the original intent of OS X. Glad to see it took forever to drown out the whining.
    • "Unlike OPENSTEP, users were able to save files directly to the desktop." --This was a design choice Keith Ohlfs, Steve Jobs and several others specifically didn't want in NeXTSTEP that obviously carried over to Openstep:: A non-cluttered Desktop to keep the clean, minimalistic look; hence THE SHELF: Reuse via the Shelf which is a collection of symlinks to files.
    • "Ultimately, Quartz performed better than Display PostScript, while maintaining very high output quality." --Ultimately PDF cost Apple nothing to license and Peter Grafanino(sorry if I spelled your last name wrong Pete--you are a genius and always will be) and his team who developed Quartz chose PDF firstly for cost saving measures and then to extend it in their own rights.
    • "Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia and Quark, the keystone of Macintosh development, had all yet to release their flagship products for OS X, and in the case of Quark, would not until two years later." --They didn't release their products because they insisted upon CARBON.

    Now that Cocoa is finally getting its just dues how long before we see replacements to these Gorillas? They didn't want to invest in Cocoa programming then, but now six years later will they have taken the time to find the talent to do it now? Hard to tell but these are my predictions.

    If they don't they'll be left behind. Adobe sees it by Apple entering into the market with better products.

    Macromedia sees it but lets see if they really see it.

    Quark seems to be the most cautious and I'm guessing they'll hedge their bets and have invested in such talent already.

    Microsoft? Never. They'll figure that Office will always guarantee them supremacy in the platform. Then again I'm sure they'll be quite pissed if Apple releases a compatible Office suite worthy of knocking off Office. Afterall, XML is the measure of compatibility on all future Office suites.

    The last section is obviously just conjecture but conjecture with history.
    • by MrLint (519792) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:41PM (#10803864) Journal
      Id like to add a few things based on my experiences in the user chat rooms (IRC) at the time, specifically on the "Idiot wars" (which im not sure i would have chosen as a term but hey:)

      Of the many things we groused about as we saw os x develop were many of those UI things. We wanted our volumes on the desktop along with our trash (which we didnt officially get).

      Many people wanted labels (of which I couldnt care less).

      There was also a lot of back and forth by people who mostly didnt know anything regarding open transport, that is streams from OT (macos 7 - 9) and of course BSD sockets from NeXT. Of course in the end no one noticed any change at all and that part has long since been forgotten.

      There was, and still remains some bitterness over the appearance manager getting "Steved". This one is a mixed bag. Id like to change some colors, however when you look at some the visual disasters created by ppl who would be better off doing soap carving, I dont know if i can fault Steve totally.

      In the end the users didnt want to have to learn too much new stuff. The finder had to behave like everyone expected. And more importantly X-Windows style cursor focusing is just a no go. (Ive used it on Solaris, and it takes a certain mindset to deal with that meta-abstraction in a visual mode) and frankly it would be too bard for some people. As a note there was and may still be a hidden pref in the terminal.plist to turn this on for terminal, however it causes behavior inconsistencies when terminal autofocuses when you are in a "normal" app.

      And thus it was from the peanut gallery.
    • Most. Interesting. NeXTSTEP. article. ever!

      They didn't release their products because they insisted upon CARBON.
      Now that Cocoa is finally getting its just dues how long before we see replacements to these Gorillas

      I am sooo over the Carbon apps. Why won't these %*#@! companies get with the times and hire some of us Cocoa programmers already!! I'm cheap, I swear!! Beyond that, Objective-C... it's *still* the way to go!! Stupid Carbon apps will never really work 100% right, I swear... freekin' Word *still*

  • by not_hylas( ) (703994) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:05PM (#10803652) Homepage Journal
    For the x86 freaks, your only hope for an Apple menu on a bare metal x86
    They're making headway - mine runs.

    http://www.rhapsody-project.tk/

    A VERY cool resource.

    http://www.shawcomputing.net/

    Stone

    http://www.stone.com/dev/StonesThrow21/Whats_New _I n_DR2.html
  • by borgheron (172546) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:09PM (#10803676) Homepage Journal
    I can't let this topic go without a mention...

    http://www.gnustep.org

    Please take a look!

    Thanks, GJC
  • Against The Grain? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Goo.cc (687626) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:13PM (#10803699)
    I am probably one of the few people who prefered NeXTStep to Mac OS X. Some of the (IMHO) reasons:

    -the user interface was better
    -file management was better
    -Digital Webster
    -no bar fixed across the top of the screen

    Excited by old articles in Byte magazine, I bought a used NeXT Mono-Station from Sam Goldberger, who ran a company called Spherical Solutions. It ran great and I loved it. But when I wanted to buy a copy of Openstep 4 for my PC, NeXT wanted somewhere in the neighborhood of $900.00 for it. I think that had a lot to do with NeXT's inability to compete in the PC market.

    Today, I run a PowerMac G4 with Mac OS X 1.3.6.
  • Mac OS X history (Score:3, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Friday November 12, 2004 @08:37PM (#10803838) Homepage
    For info about the evolution of NextStep to OS X, the Mac OS X history [wikipedia.org] article is also worth reading.
  • Complete Teardown (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ebooher (187230) on Friday November 12, 2004 @09:38PM (#10804311) Homepage Journal

    A little off topic, but related nonetheless. Does anyone have any links to pictures and perhaps even step by steps of a complete teardown of one of these? I've seen the TurboStations .... they are very similar to a same year model Sun Pizza box. Layout and all of my SparcStation 5 is very close (not cookie cutter mind you, but still you can see that the inspiration was there)

    These cubes are so huge ... 12" by 12" ... compared to a similar Pizza box. In fact it looks like you could have two Mainboards in a Cube? How many drives did this thing hold? What's the internal chassis look like? I'm curious to know, but don't have a lot money (shipping a computer that size/weight is enormous) to spend to just strip the thing with no intention of ever actually using it. (I have 6 various Sparc machines, none Ultra, that just sit around already)

    Thanks in advance for any info.

    • I saw inside one of those.. Geez, had to be 12 or 13 years ago.

      What I remember was that the front of the case came off, exposing a bunch of HUGE cards mounted vertically. They were like 12x10" or something crazy like that.

      I remember one of the cards had a processor on it, so they must have all plugged into a passive backplane.

      I remember two cards had a SHITPILE of ram on them. 30 pin SIMMs, I think, on one; the other was VRAM IIRC, on the display postscript card. The DPS card might have had an Intel i860
  • by michaeldot (751590) on Friday November 12, 2004 @11:23PM (#10804836)

    If the Copland project (aka the real Mac OS 8) hadn't floundered like a beached whale, it wouldn't have left Apple in the desperate position of needing to buy a new OS foundation.

    That means, they wouldn't have had to buy either Be or NeXT, which would have meant no Mr Steve Jobs. Even the non-fanboy audience here wouldn't question that it was his vision guiding Apple into an undisputed innovator in the "OS-with-power-AND-style" and "digital lifestyle" arenas (despite having negligible marketshare) that has truly saved Apple from extinction (for the moment).

    If Copland HAD worked out, Apple might have kicked around for a few years as a viable alternative to Windows 95/98/NT for loyal Apple supporters, but ultimately the onset of very cheap PC hardware and a genuinely superior NT-based OS would have pummeled them into powder.

    (BTW, hold the flames: I'm saying NT was superior to the nuKernel of Copland, not to modern Mac OS X, which I'm sure hands NT's ass to it on a plate when it comes to things like multitasking.)

    So... as I see it, Copland's failure saved Apple!

    • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday November 12, 2004 @11:54PM (#10804963)
      I think the biggest reason why Apple's Copland project failed was that it was essentially re-inventing the wheel of the type of memory management UNIX and Windows NT did.

      (By the way, people forget that Dave Cutler--who spearheaded the Windows NT project back in the late 1980's and early 1990's--essentially used a lot of the stuff he did at DEC in writing Windows NT.)

      But MacOS X was different: it essentially put the Macintosh interface on top of the BSD Unix kernel--probably a lot of stuff borrowed from NeXTSTEP. As such, MacOS X (for the most part) has the memory stability and multitasking/multithreading functionality of BSD Unix.
      • I think the biggest reason why Apple's Copland project failed was that it was essentially re-inventing the wheel of the type of memory management UNIX and Windows NT did.

        Actually they were trying to invent the steel-belted radial. The Copland swap system, for instance was a strange beast, using 256 swap files (for some reason) and performed better than unix or NT swap systems.

        Don't forget, we got alpha seeds of Copland - you can run it today if you have the right hardware. They just hadn't finished bac
    • by putaro (235078) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @08:29AM (#10806207) Journal
      I worked on Copland. The failure of Copland was not really a failure of technology but a failure of management. There were a number of management failures that brought the project down.

      In the winter of 1995 we got a mandate that the first Copland beta would be made available for the May 1996 World Wide Developers' Conference.

      That winter two of the major tasks that were being handled were to bring in the new file system and the new I/O system, replacing the original Copland, hastily built, prototype systems. For the purposes of that build, Copland could be split into 4 major pieces: file system, I/O subsystem, kernel and higher level functionality.

      We produced set of glue code such that either file system or I/O subsystem could be used together, allowing the new I/O subsystem to be tested without alterations to the rest of the system and the new file system to be tested with the old I/O subsystem.

      In January of 1996, as we were approaching the end of that build cycle, the kernel team decided that they really, really, needed to change a bunch of API's that would break just about everything. At this point, a strong management decision would have been "WAIT - those changes can go into the next build, AFTER the I/O subsystem and file system have been tested". Instead, the kernel changes were allowed to proceed. At this point everything in the system was broken. Upgrading the old I/O subsystem to work with the new kernel API's was a huge amount of work so the ability to test the new file system against the old I/O subsystem was lost. Now, the entire system had to be tested together with every component in flux. Needless to say, the integration process for this build took forever and was probably the first death blow for the project.

      As WWDC approached, we expected that pressure would be brought from management to make the deadline. Instead, as the time for all-nighters with free pizza came up in about March management looked at the schedule and decided that it could not be met. Having told everyone previously if this deadline was missed the company would be in deep doo-doo, management credibility went out the window. The number of late nighters (already not enough for a project so far behind schedule) dropped precipitously. This was the second death blow to the project.

      Over the summer of 1996 we were very close to having the developer release ready. A senior engineer and tech lead had been on sabbatical and doing some serious thinking and came back with a paper that cast serious doubts on the approach that Copland was taking to emulating the Mac OS System 7 environment.

      Classic Mac OS is more of a library than an operating system in that all of the operating system's data structures are in the same address as applications. Copland's approach to Classic Mac OS compatibility was to emulate EVERYTHING, including internal data structures that applications might use. For example, in Classic Mac OS there is a linked list (can't remember the name of the damned thing right now) of data structures for all of the open files. Applications would walk this list to find out who else had files open. In the Copland emulation environment the Copland file system would generate events for the emulation layer so that the emulation layer could keep this list current!

      This approach was causing serious problems. The mandate from marketing was that 99% of applications had to run, warts and all and this was proving to be strictly impossible. The emphasis on providing an emulation layer had bushwhacked the "new api" such that there really wasn't much available to write apps that took advantage of the multi-tasking and memory protection that the OS provided. The paper written seriously critiqued this approach.

      Unfortunately as this paper made its way up the management chain to people who did not really understand what it was talking about, the entire project began to be regarded as failed.

      Copland had a number of technical failings, one of its
      • by TheInternet (35082) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:39PM (#10808402) Homepage Journal
        The end result was that Mac OS X was not shipped until 2001, nearly 3 years behind what was promised.

        You're leaving out some rather crucial parts of the story, here. In Spring of 1999, Apple shipped Mac OS X Server 1.0. In many respects, this is what was promised: Nextstep/Rhapsody on PowerPC hardware. It's a far cry from what we have in Mac OS X today, but that's because the requirements changed.

        First, the original Next acquisition strategy was to require everyone to rewrite their apps in NextStep APIs (predecessor to Cocoa). Companies like Adobe didn't like this prospect, so Apple went back and started working on Carbon, which was a significant undertaking. In addition, Quartz was created to replace Display PostScript. And that's really just scratching the surface.

        Nonetheless, Apple went from having about 10% of the desktop market when I started in 1995 to less than 4% today

        Windows 95 combined with Apple management issues certainly had a significant impact. But to be fair, not all of this is due to Apple losing customers. Today, market share includes $168 PCs from Walmart, but this is a much different type of experience offered to a much different type of customer than what we typically think of as computer users.

        So, if Copland had succeeded would Apple have been sunk? I don't think so. The fact that OS X has a Unix underpinning has had very little effect on the number of applications available for it. OS X's windowing system is most emphatically NOT X Windows so a port of any interesting application from Unix or Windows is major work.

        This is misleading in several senses. Not only does come with a X11 server but a lot of significant Unix software (Apache, MySQL, etc) is faceless. In terms of consumer desktop application, what the Unix side brings is basic infrastructure for a multi-user system.

        But one of the most significant advantages that Next brought to the table was the development environment. Not only for third party developers but Apple itself. The speed at which one can write high quality applications is a huge asset.

        Objective-C has become the language of choice for Mac applications which again makes your applications totally non-portable.

        The language is essentially irrelevant. The difference is in the frameworks. Unless you're using cross-platform toolkits, the language issue is a moot point. And cross-platform apps generally don't serve the platform or users as much as the developer.

        Your best bet is to write the core engine in something like C, and write the higher level UI stuff in whatever the platform prefers.

        Had Apple had strong enough managemnt to rein in engineering and force the product to ship it would have been successful and a strong contender to Windows NT on the desktop.

        We clearly have different opinions on this, but I have a rather hard time seeing your parallel universe comparing favorably to one with Jobs, Cocoa, iMac, iPod/iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, Final Cut Pro, etc. That's just my gut feeling.

        - Scott
        • In Spring of 1999, Apple shipped Mac OS X Server 1.0. In many respects, this is what was promised: Nextstep/Rhapsody on PowerPC hardware. It's a far cry from what we have in Mac OS X today, but that's because the requirements changed.

          No, what was promised was that NextStep as it was would be a suitable desktop OS. Jobs' reality distortion field and Apple management's lack of understanding the Mac platform led this to be believed as a viable strategy. Next management did not understand the realities of t
  • by Kris Magnusson (115926) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:37PM (#10808387) Homepage
    i applaud anyone who would like to bring the user interface of NeXTstep back to the x86 platform on modern hardware. but i'm wondering if there's an alternate route.

    i've been spending considerable time of late conceptualizing building a new distro based solely on GNUstep and its associated apps. in my opinion, there is a critical mass of GNUstep-powered apps that run on Linux to create a user experience that rivals that of NeXTstep. it's low-hanging fruit that IMHO no one is reaching out to grab. i would like to grab it.

    you might not understand the sheer power NeXTstep affords its users to appreciate why I would want to build something like this--i encourage you to find an old NeXTstep box and see for yourself why I would be excited about NeXTstep years after its demise.

    i'm sure some believe KDE/GNOME already provide ease-of-use for end users, but having had the power of NeXTstep under my fingers for years, and having been a Linux user since 1995, I'm not sold. I'm currently working with a small Linux distro vendor to explore the possibility of building such an environment. We're trying to figure out if it would have any commercial promise. So far, well, it looks promising, but we might do it anyway for the sheer fun of having NeXTstep back on top of Linux. (Scratching an itch, in other words.) Although I believe KDE and GNOME have come a long way, IMHO they still lack the sheer ease-of-use that NeXTstep provided back in the day. I think the time might be right for an alternative to KDE/GNOME that is based on the NeXTstep experience.

    I'm interested in readers' thoughts on this matter. Email me if this sounds interesting.

    ........... kris

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