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What is a Next Cube&Trade;?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
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  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2016
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The NeXT Cube™, also known as the NeXTcube, was a personal computer designed by the founder and CEO of Apple Computers Steve Jobs during a time when he was in between stints with the company. After Jobs was let go from Apple in the mid 1980s, he founded NeXT Computers. The NeXT Cube™, while advanced for its time, may have been too advanced, and introduced too many idiosyncrasies, for it to be widely accepted.

The NeXT Cube™ was manufactured from 1988 to 1993. The computer had a number of features we come to expect from modern machines, such as a graphical interface. It came complete with a monitor and printer, though the monitor could only display in grayscale, which some considered one of its drawbacks.

One of the most distinctive features about the NeXT Cube&trade was its design. While most computers of the day were cream-colored horizontal or vertical towers in a rectangular shape, the NeXT Cube™ tinkered with a new design. It was black and in a cubical shape, as its name would suggest.

Jobs' vision was to create one of the most powerful personal computers in the world up to that point, and he appeared to accomplish that goal. It had 8Mb of RAM, up to a 33 MHz CPU, and a 25 MHz math co-processor. It also included a modem. The operating system was called NeXTstep™. It was based on the Unix™ operating system, much like later versions of the Mac computer would be.

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Also, like the iMac™, the computer had no floppy disk drive. This lack of portable storage, which was very much out of the norm at the time, may have contributed to the downfall of the NeXT Cube™. During its initial years, very few people had e-mail and the only way to transfer files was by portable storage devices. Most people had disk drivers for such purposes.

However, even more than the lack of a disk drive, it was the price of the machine which probably really stopped it from gaining widespread popularity. The NeXT Cube™ had an original price tag of $6,500 US Dollars (USD) when it first appeared on the market. Even by today's standards, that is a pricey computer.

Despite the fact that it was so expensive, the NeXT Cube™ is remembered fondly as a groundbreaking machine for its time and a precursor to many of the features found in later releases by Apple Computers. In fact, Jobs' return to Apple was facilitated by the fact that Apple acquired NeXT Computers. Today, even being nearly 20 years old, some NeXT Cube&trade computers are still used for servers.

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