1989 NeXT catalog is a stylish trip back in time

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NeXT
Can this really have been 30 years ago?
Photo: NeXT

Looking for a dose of Monday nostalgia? If so, then you might enjoy checking out the 1989 fall catalog for NeXT, the company started by Steve Jobs during his years outside Apple.

Loving scanned by amateur computer historian Kevin Savetz, it’s a fun look at computing 30 years ago.

Speaking to The Verge, Savetz said that he found the catalog in a collection of old computers he recently purchased. While he has now auctioned off the catalog, he first carried out a full scan of it. “I had never seen a catalog like it, and couldn’t find much reference to it online, so it was an easy choice to scan it,” he said.

The catalog features software, peripherals, and more made by NeXT. You can check it out here or Archive.org.

One of the most surprising things is just how modern a lot of it still looks. Sure, the specs are hopelessly outdated by 2019 standards. But the beautiful aesthetics of the machine and the way it’s photographed wouldn’t look out to far out of place today. In some ways it’s reminiscent of Jony Ive’s “Designed by Apple in California” book from a couple of years back.

Weirdly, one of the most retro parts may be the fact that it harks back to a day when physical brochures made by computer companies were in ready supply!

NeXT catalog
Design-wise, the catalog isn’t that different from Jony Ive’s “Designed By Apple in California” book.
Photo: NeXT

The NeXT step

I’ve previously written plenty about NeXT in my daily “Today in Apple history” column. It was an intriguing stage of Steve Jobs’ career. The company ultimately launched two computers in the form of 1988’s NeXT Computer and 1990’s smaller NeXTstation. Neither of them wound up selling particularly well, and NeXT burned through cash.

It wound up getting out of the hardware game altogether in early 1993. At the time, you could have been forgiven for thinking this was the end of the road for Steve Jobs. With his other company Pixar also making hardware that no-one was buying, his career was looking very shaky.

But then everything changed. Toy Story‘s success in theaters made Pixar a giant and Steve Jobs a billionaire. Meanwhile, NeXT’s object-oriented, multitasking, UNIX-based operating system, NeXTSTEP, appealed to Apple. Looking for a new OS at the time, Apple snapped up NeXT for its IP. Steve Jobs came as part of the deal. Within a few years, Apple was back on top!

(As so often happens, writing about old tech makes me nostalgic for this era of computing. If anyone has a NeXT Computer they’re willing to part ways with — ideally in the UK — drop me a line as I’d very happily snap it up!)