The NeXT Cube's Contribution to Computing

NeXT Cube

By Ethan Zaruba-Walker
April 29, 2020

You probably know Steve Jobs for his revolutionary contributions to computing while he was at Apple, but not many people know about the incredible venture he led in the 80s and 90s called NeXT Computers Inc. Next created high powered computers marketed towards higher learning institutions and research facilities. NeXT’s big contribution to computing came with their second hardware release, the NeXT Cube. The Cube lived in a 1 foot black magnesium housing that contained some of the highest end hardware of the time.  As aesthetically pleasing as the Cube was to look at, the real innovations were in it’s OS. The Cube’s operating system, NeXT Step, was the first occurrence of object oriented programming that would soon become a cornerstone of the computing world. Other Object oriented programming languages include Java, JavaScript, Python, C++ and so many more. The Cube’s computing environment spawned incredible innovations like the world’s first web server and web browser created by Tim Berners Lee and the DOOM and QUAKE video games 1 . that have achieved “classic” status among the gaming community. The Cube’s impact doesn't stop there, the first food ordered and delivered via the web was placed through a NeXT native service called CyberSlice where Steve Jobs ordered a pizza with tomato and basil 2. Apple later bought NeXT for 400 million dollars 3  to acquire the company’s software for use on it’s Apple devices. Today, NeXT Step serves as the basis for Mac OSX, IOS, tvOS and watchOS. The ultimate significance of the NeXT company, it’s Cube and the operating system within, are their continued place in computing today. This fairly anonymous tech company has truly had an extraordinary impact on the face of modern computing.

  1. John Romero, “Game Tales: Cray 6400,” Rome.ro, January 21, 2010, https://rome.ro/news/2015/12/13/gametales-cray-ymp.

  2. Steve Green, “AppStorey Talks with Steve Green about Steve Jobs, The Smithsonian and How a Pizza with Basil Became the First Food Delivered via the Web,” AppStorey, June 12, 2019, https://appstorey.com/2019/06/06/appstorey-talks-with-steve-green/.

  3. John Romero, “Apple-NeXT Merger Birthday!,” Rome.ro, December 20, 2006, https://rome.ro/news/2016/2/14/apple-next-merger-birthday.