Practical Technology

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Steve Jobs: The NeXT Years

As an East-coast based technologist I barely knew the Steve Jobs of Apple’s early years. As a journalist covering Unix though I did get to know Steve Jobs when he founded NeXT and directed the creation of NeXTStep, the first Unix desktop meant for a mass market. Today, you know its direct descendant as Mac OS X.

For the last decade, you’ve known Steve Jobs as the wizard-king of Apple. From his throne room at Macworld or Apple’s developers conference, he would strive forth in his robes of office–a black turtleneck and jeans-announce “One more thing” and determine the shape of computing for the next year. Hate him or love him, he was the trend-setter not just for Apple, but for all computing. And, just like the Wizard of Oz, outside his throne room, he would have nothing to do with you. That wasn’t the Jobs I met in 1989.

The Jobs I knew, still chastened by his forced departure from Apple in 1985, was happy to talk to the press. I think he rather liked me since I was one of the few people who took his new company, NeXT; his new PCs, the NeXT Cube and the NeXTStation, and his new operating system, NeXTStep seriously.

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