The second generation of computers from NeXT

A very proud and self-confident the company made a second attempt. And this time it worked out. Almost.

Continued. The previous series here, here, here, here, here and here and here.

In the previous section we mentioned three new models of computers NeXT, two budget versions of these computers (NeXTstation and NeXTstation Color) and a new version of a computer in a magnesium cube, which is now called the NeXTcube.

Selling all of these models began in the early 1991 year – but the most important part of the real revolution (which is already on the account?), revolution in the color support in workstations for all occurred only in the summer.

With the exception of higher rates and 12-megabyte of RAM instead of 8 MB, NeXTstation and NeXTstation Color are almost identical. The same thing, only one of the models is black and white and another color. It will be discussed in the next section.

NeXTstation

“This machine “swept away” from the market and the Mac and Sun SPARCstation’s” – can be read between the lines in publications about the NeXTstation. A statement attributed to Steve, but he didn’t and never said that. According to jobs, NeXTstation occupies an intermediate position between the Macintosh IIfx (the most powerful at that time Mac om) and the SPARCstation. Also arrogance, to SPARCstation was far away, but… it is quite in the bounds of decency.

Retail price NeXTstation, in the base – 4 $ 995. None of the Mac comparable to the class, not to mention the SPARCstation from Sun, basic shouldn’t have been so cheap.

At the same time, none of the basic specifications of the competitors, at no additional cost, intended to apply could not. This was done to attract buyers – naked computer seemed to be cheaper and sold better.

NeXTstation was immediately ready to work and defense. Instead of the usual megabytes of RAM (despite the fact that required at least four times), NeXTstation set of 8 megabytes. RAM was very expensive, but for bulk purchases, and master of trade at the head of the company, their costs could be significantly reduced.

The hard drive in the base configuration is usually not included, for the same reasons. They cost thousands of dollars – but their absence was explained by the desire to provide the client complete freedom of choice. In NeXTstation installed in the hard disk 105 megabytes, with very fast access.

In any case, in the most minimal form, together with the NeXTSTEP UNIX ohms and vital utilities, documentation, and so forth, was approximately 70 megabytes. To the question about the drive, price and the statement that “honesty is the best policy”, will come back later.

The basic kit NeXTstation included display 17-inch diagonal and four shades of gray, MegaPixel developed in the NeXT, and associated with a computer from the NeXT cable, which in official documents called the “umbilical cord”. NeXTstation MegaPixel and was just born for each other. In the sense that neither computer could not use another monitor (without loss of functionality and without labor), or the monitor might not work with another computer.

MegaPixel 17” from the kit was different from the NeXTstation MegaPixel 17” set NeXT Computer. If not for the conciseness of Steve jobs, quite often seemingly anomalous, it would be MegaPixel+ 2 MegaPixel or. There wasn’t a hole to plug a third-party microphone (the microphone was built into the front of the display) and the screen was applied anti-glare coating.

With some reservations, NeXTstation was immediately ready to work. It was enough to get her out of the boxes (alas, few), to connect cables and connect the network (electric and communication). Open (mentally) box, remove packaging material…

The first that was evident – slim black case new computer. Like a box of pizza, a surprisingly easy and pleasant to the touch. Great stand for 17-inch MegaPixel, from all points of view. They were to each other as a handbag and gloves beautiful stranger.

Competitors believed the cost of upscale design waste a lot of money, but to attract the attention of potential customers, hitting their souls and imagination is half the battle. At least, the world of things around us became a little more beautiful.

In the horizontal plane of the “plate” – a square with sides of 15 inches (38.1 cm), three inches more than the side of both adapt to IVF ovskih cubes. The height of the “plate” two and a half inches (6.35 cm).

In spite of the frivolous and the size of the computer inside this “plate” had lost NeXTcube and was significantly superior to the first NeXT Computer. 68040 processor with a clock frequency of 25 MHz (with numeric coprocessor to work with real numbers inside), the same processor digital signal processing (DSP), 56001 with the same clock frequency.

In the process of developing considered new from Motorola, the new DSP 96002, and rejected him, despite all of its advantages. The downside was only one: the system that his team was completely different than the 56001. In a regular computer for this change, it took a considerable effort on the part of the manufacturer, and customers would have noticed only improvements and advantages. The computers from NeXT this aspect of the operating system was open to developers to rewrite the documentation and to convince third party developers to be retrained much more difficult.

Same processor I/o, the same clock frequency, all of these processors… there was only slot for expansion (NeXTbus), and the second “Bay” for the second drive, or other peripheral devices. And is 300 watts, the computer was consuming only 120.

Honesty is the best policy. But only to a certain extent. Fraud in the bounds of decency to do… probably can. It’s like a white lie, not a sin.

The disk 105 megabytes was absolutely acceptable for users with access to a good file server with a decent amount of memory. Two thirds of NeXTSTEP that can be stored on a file server.

The rest (the majority, almost all), this was not possible, and they, instead of 105 MB of disk, I ordered a drive capacity of 340 megabytes. And, as a rule, added another 8 megabytes of RAM. This increased the “real” price NeXTstation thousand to 8, which, however, was very, very good, in comparison with AMI Mac and SPARC.

NeXTcube

NeXT Computer, the first computer in the world in the form of a cube of blackened magnesium, and dubbed – “the cube”. This name was unofficial, even though the documentation from the NeXT it met more often.

Cube’s new generation has made his nickname official. Now he was a NeXTcube.

Outwardly he was no different. Inside the difference was not much, but it was more than significant changes.

The same 4 expansion slots, only now, instead it was as nubus slots NeXTbus, better suitable for a personal workstation than the standard. Because of the unusual for as nubus clock frequency 25 MHz (normal – 10 MHz), and an unusual size expansion boards (11 by 11 inches, on 27,94 27,94 cm), fees for other platforms was still incompatible with as nubus NeXT.

But now it was a card with the automatic selection and bootstrapping. Here’s how: open the “hood” cubic computer, insert the charge and turn on the computer. If you do not know that to make such operations when the power is dangerous for health and for technical devices – possible bad effects. But inside the case, and in the documentation, it is written clearly and distinctly. Sue NeXT for this reason useless.

However, the idiots among the NeXT users I’ve ever met. One. From several hundred. And then he carefully turned off the cube before replacing the Board to another.

In NeXTbus there were other innovations, but it is a private detail that I’d rather talk about something else.

The same 68040 and 56001, and NeXTstation. The performance characteristics of the 68040 provided impressive numbers. 15,2 MIPS (million instructions per second, roughly the same as “operations per second”), and 2.8 MFLOPPS (millions of operations with floating point per second).

These numbers are (1) truthful and (2) is the maximum performance of CPU. That is, the limit above which in real life never rise, without the aid of boosters (this was, Pyro, dispersing 68040, 25 MHz to 50 MHz that was a) violent or dangerous stunts.

In real life performance is affected by too many factors.

But to turn NeXT Computer, he’s “just a cube”, new generation computer was easy. He could upgrade: pull out the old Board, 68030, and replace it with a Board with a 68040. Say, while we had to dance dances with a tambourine, and in any case the old cube did not become a new – but performance has increased in the required “about three times”…

Special color models NeXTcube was not. Expansion Board NeXTdimension, one of the following parts were installed in one of the slots, and… a Miracle happened. However, to complete the miracle was required to get color display (NeXT), and connect it to the cube…

At the same time, the old abilities stay in place. “Color” cube to work with two monitors, the old black-and-white and new colour at the same time.

However, this miracle was no surprise, the Mac and learned how to do it before everyone else.

In the documentation it is reported that NeXTcube could connect up to 4 monitors, and that they formed a huge common space (i.e., objects can be dragged from one monitor to the second, and on until it was where), but how this was done I do not know.

Cost NeXTcube 9 $ 995. In almost living configuration, with a disk of 105 MB.

In the continuation we will talk about the 16 – and 32-bit color.

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