S01 E08
5 Jul 2021/01:11:18

NeXT, Objective-C, and contrasting histories

Oxide and Friends Twitter Space: July 5, 2021

NeXT, Objective-C, and contrasting histories
We’ve been holding a Twitter Space weekly on Mondays at 5p for about an hour. Even though it’s not (yet?) a feature of Twitter Spaces, we have been recording them all; here is the recording for our Twitter Space for July 5, 2021.
In addition to Bryan Cantrill and Adam Leventhal, speakers on July 5th included Tom Lyon, Ian, bch, Theo Schlossnagle, Rick Altherr, and Nate. (Did we miss your name and/or get it wrong? Drop a PR!)
Some of the topics we hit on, in the order that we hit them:
  • First Twitter Space, May 3rd
  • [@2:28](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=148) Randall Stross book: Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing (1993)
  • [@4:42](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=282) The SPARCstation 1 and the Sun-4c (campus) architecture > The hardware was not competitive, but dammit they sure looked good!
  • NeXTcube
  • [@9:15](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=555) It’s nuts how much time and energy they spent on the look of it. > They were building a huge factory, just about the time people were > starting to outsource everything.
  • Sun was doing incremental things, and Steve was going for the 100 yard pass.
    • Apple Lisa computer > NeXT refused to interoperate with anything. > They had this idea that a NeXT customer is going to buy all NeXT machines.
  • [@13:20](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=800) NeXT was a really proprietary company, contrasted with Sun, a really open company. > Bill Gates volunteers that he would gladly urinate on a NeXT machine.
  • They are attempting to reinvent absolutely everything, so they need all software to be written from scratch, effectively.
  • Jobs does this over and over again at NeXT. He does things to make NeXT look bigger than it is.
  • [@16:23](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=983) Jobs blows off important meeting with IBM
  • [@18:56](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=1136) Mathematica went whole hog on NeXT
  • [@20:55](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=1255) “Steve Jobs yells at your dad a lot?”
  • [@22:22](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=1342) Story of Jobs trying to sell NeXT machines to Brown’s CS dept > “Your product looks great, I’m just not sure your company is > going to be around for as long as we need it to be.”
     > Then Steve Jobs calls him an a**hole and storms out.
  • [@23:35](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=1415) NeXT spent very freely. Lavish offices, catering, etc > He did not take VC money. He had weird money from beginning to end.
     > Ross Perot thought Jobs was a total genius. Then realized that whether > he was a genius or not, he wasn’t selling any computers.
  • The 80’s were all about fear of Japan.
  • Ultimately they had to pivot away from hardware.
  • [@26:38](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=1598) In contrast to Sun
    • Metaphor Computer Systems
    • Bryan’s tweet from July 3 > Measured by most any yardstick one could choose, Sun was one of > the most successful stories of the 1980’s for all of industrial America.
    • John Gage
  • [@32:43](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=1963)
  • [@39:53](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=2393) Named parameters in programming languages
    • The software crisis, Object Orientation, “Software ICs”
  • [@44:40](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=2680) NeXT was building real things with Objective-C, PPI wasn’t.
  • [@45:54](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=2754) Rick’s experience with Objective-C at Apple
  • [@54:08](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=3248) Objective-C and Swift are mandated. If it were an open ecosystem, would they be significant? > There was a feeling that the hardware didn’t matter. > You shouldn’t trouble yourself with any details.
  • [@57:46](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=3466) Secrecy at NeXT and Apple
    • NDAs signed per project > Secrecy is a lot of work.
  • It was all about being able to walk on stage, and dramatically drop something that was going to be life changing.
  • It seems like the secrecy was being used to manipulate people.
  • [@1:03:13](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=3793) x86 port at Apple
  • [@1:05:34](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=3934) Jobs tells them to make it great, because it’s currently sh*t.
  • [@1:08:04](https://youtu.be/2H9XQBdLB0Y?t=4084) Is Objective-C being used anywhere today outside the Apple ecosystem?
If we got something wrong or missed something, please file a PR! Our next Twitter space will likely be on Monday at 5p Pacific Time; stay tuned to our Twitter feeds for details. We’d love to have you join us, as we always love to hear from new speakers!