Operating system originally created for the NeXTcube, a project directed by Steve Jobs after he left Apple in 1985. After commercial failure, the company is eventually bought up by Apple in 1996.


1988: NeXTstep 0.9 - first available version; for NeXT hardware only.

NeXTstep 1.0 was released on September 18, 1989 after several previews starting in 1986.

NeXTSTEP 1.0 has been licensed to IBM, who ported it to AIX architecture. However, it took so long, that by the time the project was finished, NeXTSTEP 2.0 for NeXT hardware was ready. Since the company wanted more money for a new 2.0 license, and there was no obvious benefits, IBM lost interest in NeXTSTEP.

September 18, 1990: NeXTstep 2.0
March 25, 1991: NeXTstep 2.1
September 1992: NeXTstep 3.0

1993: NeXT withdraws from the hardware business and renames as NeXT Software, Inc.

May 25, 1993: NeXTstep 3.1 (also known as NeXTSTEP 486) adds support for the i386, PA-RISC, and SPARC architectures.

October 1993: About the time of the 3.2 release NeXT teamed up with Sun Microsystems to develop OpenStep, a cross-platform standard and implementation (for Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows, and NeXT's version of the Mach kernel) based on Nextstep 3.2. There are now four versions including NeXTSTEP/NeXT (for NeXT's 68k "black boxes"), NeXTSTEP/Intel, NeXTSTEP/PA-RISC and NeXTSTEP/SPARC. Although these ports were not widely used, NeXTSTEP gained popularity at institutions such as the National Reconnaissance Office, First Chicago NBD, Swiss Bank Corporation, and other organizations due to its programming model.

February 1995: The last and most popular version, 3.3, is released, by which time it ran not only on Motorola 68000 family processors, but also IBM PC compatible x86, Sun SPARC, and HP PA-RISC.

December 20, 1996: NeXT is bought by Apple for US$400 million. The main purpose of the acquisition was to use NeXTstep as a foundation to replace the outdated Mac OS. Apple preferred this move to either the pursuit of in-house Copland efforts or the purchase of BeOS. BeOS was allegedly too limited (it couldn’t even print!) and too expensive. OS/2 and Windows NT were also considered alternatives, as both had PowerPC versions at the time.

1996: NeXTstep 4.0 (beta) circulated to limited number of developers before OpenStep and Apple acquisition. Versions up to 4.2 were published, the last version 4.2 after purchase of NeXT by Apple.

Over the next four years, the NeXTSTEP operating system was ported to the PowerPC architecture, and the Intel version and the OpenStep Enterprise toolkit for Windows were kept in sync. The operating systems were code-named Rhapsody, while the toolkit for development on all platforms was given the moniker Yellow Box. Apple added many of their facilities and tools to Rhapsody, including QuickTime and ColorSync. For backwards compatibility, Apple added the Blue Box to the Mac version of Rhapsody; this allowed existing Mac applications to be run in a self-contained environment.

June 11th 1999: Apple releases Mac OS X Server 1.0, based on Rhapsody 5.3, a hybrid of OPENSTEP and Mac OS 8.5.1.

Apple's Mac OS X is a direct descendant of Nextstep.

The name was officially capitalized in many different ways, initially being NextStep, then NeXTstep, then NeXTSTEP, and became NEXTSTEP (all capitals) only at the end of its life. The capitalization most commonly used by "insiders" is NeXTstep. The confusion continued after the release of the OpenStep standard, when NeXT released what was effectively an OpenStep-compliant version of Nextstep with the name Openstep.

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Operating Systems

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