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NeXTSTEP desktop.jpg
Nextstep graphical user interface
Company / developer NeXT
OS family Unix-like
Working state Historic – is code base for Mac OS X
Source model Closed source
Latest stable release 3.3 / 1995
Supported platforms Motorola 68000, Intel x86, SPARC, PA-RISC
Kernel type Hybrid kernel
License Proprietary EULA

NeXTSTEP (also written NeXTstep, NeXTStep, and NEXTSTEP[1]) is the object-oriented, multitasking operating system developed by NeXT Computer to run on its range of proprietary workstation computers, such as the NeXTcube, and later, other computer architectures.

Nextstep 1.0 was released on September 18, 1989, after several previews starting in 1986. The last version, 3.3, was released in early 1995, by which time it ran not only on the Motorola 68000 family processors used in NeXT computers, but also Intel IA-32, Sun SPARC, and HP PA-RISC-based systems. Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X is a direct descendant of Nextstep.



Nextstep was a combination of several parts:

Nextstep was notable for the last three items. The toolkits offered considerable power, and were used to build all of the software on the machine. Distinctive features of the Objective-C language made the writing of applications with Nextstep far easier than on many competing systems, and the system was often pointed to as a paragon of computer development, even a decade later.

Nextstep's user interface was refined and consistent, and introduced the idea of the Dock, carried through OpenStep and into Mac OS X, and the Shelf. Nextstep also created or was among the very first to include a large number of other GUI concepts now common in other operating systems: 3D "chiseled" widgets, large full-color icons, system-wide drag and drop of a wide range of objects beyond file icons, system-wide piped services, real-time scrolling and window dragging, properties dialog boxes ("inspectors"), window modification notices (such as the saved status of a file), etc. The system was among the first general-purpose user interfaces to handle publishing color standards, transparency, sophisticated sound and music processing (through a Motorola 56000 DSP), advanced graphics primitives, internationalization, and modern typography, in a consistent manner across all applications.

Additional kits were added to the product line to make the system more attractive. These included Portable Distributed Objects (PDO), which allowed easy remote invocation, and Enterprise Objects Framework, a powerful object-relational database system. The kits made the system particularly interesting to custom application programmers, and Nextstep had a long history in the financial programming community.


The name was officially capitalized in many different ways, initially NextStep, then NeXTstep, and also NeXTSTEP. It 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.


The first web browser, WorldWideWeb, was developed on the Nextstep platform. Some features and keyboard shortcuts now commonly found in web browsers can be traced to Nextstep conventions. The basic layout options of HTML 1.0 and 2.0 are attributable to those features available in NeXT's Text class.[2] The game Doom was also largely developed on NeXT machines,[3] as was Macromedia FreeHand, the modern "Notebook" interface for Mathematica, and the advanced spreadsheet Lotus Improv. The software that controlled MCI's Friends and Family program was developed using Nextstep.[4][5]

About the time of the 3.2 release, NeXT teamed up with Sun Microsystems to develop OpenStep, a cross-platform object-oriented API standard derived from Nextstep. Implementations of that standard were released for Sun's Solaris, Windows NT, and NeXT's version of the Mach kernel. NeXT's implementation was called OPENSTEP for Mach and its first release (4.0) superseded Nextstep 3.3 on NeXT, Sun and Intel IA-32 systems.

Following an announcement on December 20, 1996,[6] on February 4, 1997, Apple Computer acquired NeXT for $429 million, and used the OPENSTEP for Mach operating system as the basis for Mac OS X.[7]

A free software implementation of the OpenStep standard, GNUstep, also exists.


Version Appeared Comment
0.8 October 12, 1988
0.8a 1988
0.9 1988 first available version; for NeXT hardware only
1.0 1989
1.0a 1989
2.0 September 18, 1990
2.1 March 25, 1991
3.0 At the end of 1992
3.1 May 25, 1993 Support for the i486, PA-RISC, and SPARC architectures.
3.2 October 1993
3.3 February 1995 Last and most popular version released under the name Nextstep
4.0 (beta) 1996 Beta circulated to limited number of developers before OpenStep and Apple acquisition

Versions up to 3.3 were published.

See also



This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL.

External links


Simple English

A WorldWideWeb Browser running on NEXTSTEP

NEXTSTEP was a computer operating system made by a company called NeXT. NeXT was run by Steve Jobs, who is now the CEO of Apple. NEXTSTEP was based on UNIX. It had a graphical user interface and it let people write computer programs using object-oriented programming. NEXTSTEP ran only on computers made by NeXT. Later on, NEXTSTEP was changed so that it could run on other computers. This new operating system was called OPENSTEP. In 1997, Apple bought the NeXT company and used NEXTSTEP to make Mac OS X.


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