Today in Apple history: NeXT customers get early taste of OS X

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NeXTstep
NeXTStep was an operating system ahead of its time.
Image: NeXT

September 18: Today in Apple history: NeXTStep gives NeXT customers an early taste of OS X September 18, 1989: Steve Jobs’ company NeXT Inc. ships version 1.0 of NeXTStep, its object-oriented, multitasking operating system.

Incredibly advanced for its time, NeXTStep is described by The New York Times as “Macintosh on steroids.” In an ironic twist, the operating system Jobs plans to use to compete with Cupertino turns out to be one of the things that saves Apple a decade later.

How Steve Jobs poached a Microsoft employee with a restaurant menu

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A successful Steve Jobs recruitment pitch came from an Il Fornaio menu. (It's an Italian restaurant in Palo Alto, California.)
"Do you want to eat pasta all your life, or join me and change the world?"
Photo: Lou Stejskal/Flickr CC

It’s not exactly breaking news that Steve Jobs was a great salesman. But a hilarious anecdote from Adam Fisher’s recent oral history of Silicon Valley, Valley of Genius, gives a great example of Jobs’ next-level skills.

Want to know how Jobs persuaded a product marketing expert from Microsoft to join his company NeXT? It turns out it involved little more than a bit of patented Steve Jobs charm — and a helping hand from a local Italian restaurant menu.

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs prepares to take on Apple

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Apple-at-40-What-Steve-Jobs-Said-About-Computers-in-1981
1985 was a major turning point in Jobs' life.
Photo: ABC

2 September Today in Apple history September 2, 1985: Reports claim Steve Jobs is on the verge of setting up his own company to compete with Apple. The rumors fly after Jobs sells Apple stock holdings worth $21.43 million.

For anyone who thinks speculation about Apple’s future is an invention of the blog era, today’s “Today in Apple history” is a reminder that the tech rumor mill was alive and well in 1985.

Doom’s lead programmer recalls working with Steve Jobs

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Doom cover
John Carmack was one of the brains behind some of the biggest PC games of the 1980s and 90s.
Photo: Id Software

Id Software co-founder John Carmack was behind some of the most iconic computer game of the 1980s and 90s. This week, the legendary coder behind the smash hit games Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake shared some memories of working with Steve Jobs.

Writing on Facebook, Carmack described some of his interactions with Jobs over the years — for better and for worse.

Today in Apple history: Computer retail giant closure hits NeXT hard

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NeXT Cube
The NeXT Computer was great. It also didn't sell.
Photo: Rama & Musée Bolo/Wikipedia CC

May 14: Today in Apple history: Businessland closes, hits NeXt hard May 14, 1992: Steve Jobs’ company NeXT runs into trouble as it loses a crucial deal with Businessland after the giant computer retailer closes its stores.

It comes at a time when NeXT’s luck is going from bad to worse. This is one of the lowest points in Jobs’ career — before everything starts to turn around again.

Unseen Steve Jobs interview shares business secrets

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Jobs
Who wouldn't want Steve as their instructor?
Photo: Deliberate Think

Who wouldn’t have wanted Steve Jobs to have visited their university class for a casual Q&A with the students? That’s what folks at MIT were lucky enough to experience in 1992.

Running NeXT at the time, Jobs stopped by to drop some wisdom on everything from his thoughts on leaving Apple to the state of computing to his thoughts on the right way to run a company. Excerpts from the discussion recently landed on YouTube. Check them out below.

Former Apple exec tapped to lead Computer History Museum

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Dan’l Lewin in NeXT’s Palo Alto, California, offices, 1986–1987.
Dan’l Lewin in NeXT’s Palo Alto, California, offices, 1986–1987.
Photo: Doug Menuez

The Computer History Museum named former Apple executive Dan’l Lewin as its new CEO and President today.

Lewin was one of Steve Jobs’ top guys back in the early days of Apple. He served in a number of marketing roles from 1981 to 1985 and was recruited by Jobs to join his new company, NeXT, after Jobs was fired from Apple.

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs’ NeXT quits making computers

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NeXT Cube
The NeXT Computer was great. It also didn't sell.
Photo: Rama & Musée Bolo/Wikipedia CC

February 9: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs' NeXT quits making computers February 9, 1993: NeXT Computers, the company Steve Jobs founded after being pushed out of Apple, quits making computers. The company changes its name to NeXT Software and focuses its efforts entirely on producing code for other platforms.

In a mass layoff, 330 of NeXT’s 500 employees are made redundant in an event known internally as “Black Tuesday.” Cruelly, many people hear of their fate only after it is reported on the radio.

Today in Apple history: Apple brings back Steve Jobs with NeXT buyout

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Steve Jobs returned to Apple on December 20, 1996.
Steve Jobs pictured on December 20, 1996.
Photo: Tim Holmes/Flickr CC

December 20: Today in Apple history: Apple brings back Steve Jobs with NeXT buyout December 20, 1996: Apple Computer buys NeXT, the computer company Steve Jobs founded after leaving Cupertino a decade earlier.

The deal costs Apple $429 million. It’s a massive price to pay for the failing NeXT, which already saw its hardware division crash and burn. The price is worth it when you consider what Apple gets as part of the deal, however: the return of Steve Jobs.

Today in Apple history: The seeds of OS X are sown

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nextstep
Look familiar?
Photo: The Color Convergence

Nov25November 25, 1996: Garrett L. Rice, a midlevel manager at NeXT, contacts Cupertino about the possibility of Apple licensing NeXT’s OpenStep operating system.

Rice’s communication with Ellen Hancock, Apple’s chief technology officer, is the first formal step in a long process. It ultimately leads to Apple buying NeXT, the creation of OS X, and Steve Jobs returning home to the company he co-founded.