When Steve Jobs lost control of Apple in the 1980s, he found himself powerless to respond to different market needs that he had perceived in those same years. After chatting with Paul Berg, then from Stanford University, the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry, he confessed that they did not have the necessary machines to carry out the necessary simulations to advance in the field of biogenetics and DNA.
Upon detecting this type of need, in September 1985, this is how the authorized biography of Walter Isaacson, ‘Steve Jobs’ tells it. According to the account, Jobs promised the board of directors of his old company that his plans for his new company would not interfere with Apple’s market and public. The idea was to create a computer company focused on the academic and educational field, far from the general public.
Jobs put his hands and tickets to work. He put a total of 12 million dollars out of his own pocket to found NeXT, his new company, and applied a whole new work philosophy. There were no ranks or roles, just a team working together with two types of salary: one of $75,000 a year for those who had jumped on the boat early on, and $50,000 a year for others.
A $16,000+ workstation
The first product that saw the light of day under this new company was the NeXT Computer, a workstation introduced in 1988. With a Motorola 68030 CPU, it was capable of reaching a speed of 25 MHz and offered the possibility of expanding the RAM up to 64 MB. . He wore a black and white NeXT MegaPixel Display monitor and was capable of multitasking thanks to his operating system, NeXTSTEP. It cost $6,500, an amount that, translated into the cost of real life, would be about $16,300.
This was the main reason why sales were rather low, although Jobs managed to reach an agreement with a distributor to give them a boost. Despite these efforts, the market did not perform NeXT as well as Steve Jobs had originally anticipated.
When the founder of Apple realized that hardware was not NeXT’s strong point, he focused on software development, something that would help him recover his old company. NeXT Computer was renamed NeXT Software and focused on developing the OpenStep Entreprise API, a new operating system.
The time to reach an agreement
At the same time that Jobs explored another market, Apple was outdated because of the little progress when it comes to operating systems. The differences between the board of directors, the new bosses and Jobs had cooled communications, but it is true that the most logical thing was for Jobs to take action on the matter.
The negotiations between NeXT and Apple paid off and, finally, the apple brand bought Jobs’ new product in 1997 for 429 million dollars and 1.5 million shares in an agreement that contemplated that part of the NeXT operating system would be used to develop a new version of Mac OS called Mac OS X.
While as a business project NeXT cannot expect success, it became the gateway for Jobs to return to Apple, his original company, and the NeXTSTEP operating system ended up being the core of Mac OS X. In the end, all waters they return to their course.