Steve Jobs and the NExT Big Thing

I started reading a book today called Steve Jobs & the NExT Big Thing. The book chronicles Steve Jobs’ vain attempt to break away from his beloved Apple Computer to found NExT Computer. For those who may not know, Steve Jobs has had a very motley career in business. He co-founded Apple Computer in the late 70s with his college friend Steve Wozniak. Apple shortly became the fastest growing US company in history. Jobs’ moody and unpredictable nature lead to his ousting from Apple in 1986. Jobs decided he would go off and found NExT, a company with the goal of making a computer that everyone would want. (While at Apple, his goal was exactly the same.) NExT was given venture capital in excess of $250 million, despite the fact that it never achieved quarterly profit in a single quarter. Jobs came away smelling like a rose because he had bought Pixar, the company that hit the big time with 1995’s hit Toy Story. After the success of Toy Story, Jobs ended up making more money than he ever. In 1997, Jobs returned as the prodigal son to floundering Apple, where he has been the CEO ever since. (Apple has made quite the turnaround under his authority.)

I have read many accounts of Jobs but the NExT chapter of his life was usually just skimmed over. NeXT used its nearly endless capital to create some of the most innovative software to date. All modern OSs share loads of features that were available on NeXTSTEP (NeXT’s OS) over 15 years ago. The book should give me an idea why NeXT never actually got it together. (NeXT’s computers were highly overpriced, but a competent business team should have been able to make it work somehow.)

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