1989/90: The Next computer
From this vantage point in history, it may seem as though Jobs and Apple had always been inextricably joined. In 1985, however, Jobs found himself on the wrong end of a corporate power struggle with then CEO John Sculley, and soon was out the door in an exile that would last a decade. But he quickly moved on. That same year, he started Next Computer, and a year later, co-founded another company, one that would also go on to do rather well for itself in a different field: Pixar.
It was with Next that Jobs reasserted his place in the high-tech industry, unveiling the company's high-end desktop computer at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco in October 1988. "To many of us gathered in the hall," William J. Hawkins wrote in a Popular Science story, "Steve Jobs' revolutionary new computer," in January 1989. "Jobs represents American entrepreneurship at its best--he's an incurable romantic nobody wants to see fail."
Funding for Next came from billionaire H. Ross Perot, as well as Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities. But the germ of the initiative came from Jobs' reading on microbiology and a chat with Paul Berg, who'd won a Nobel prize in biochemistry, Hawkins recounts. "To define the next wave in computers we collaborated with the most adverse and demanding group of computer users in the world," Jobs said in the Davies Hall unveiling, referring to two dozen college professors. "What we learned ... was that people in higher education want a personal mainframe."
This photo from a vintage brochure shows the Next computer circa 1990.
October 5, 2011 5:02 PM PDT
Photo by: Brooke Crothers
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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