Practical Uses for the NeXT Cube

Started by JohnK801, August 19, 2017, 08:27:23 pm

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I bought a Cube & printer NOS. Then bought some upgrades from Rob B.

I am using it with Soft PC to Run DOS programs and it does that well.

Do any of you have PRACTICAL uses for this machine?  

Do you have ot hooked up to the internet? Or are getting any special benefits out of software or hardware upgrades that make it useful to you?



I don't think there's any practical use at all. Computing power is so much limited by today's standards that it's almost impossible to find any practical application.
By practical application I mean just getting to a similar result you would get with modern tools in a way or another, no matters if it takes hours instead of minutes.
Email nope, spreadsheets nope (almost), internet nope, and so on and so forth.
Seriously: thanks to god 30 years have not passed by in vain. At least when it comes to IT.
The only end use I could see is for word processing, if you are patient.
You could do that back in the late eighties with whatever Macintosh with a 68k processor and a 9" screen, you can still do that with a NeXT in a fairly decent and modern looking word processing environment (e.g. Word Perfect).
You would then move documents around via network (yes, of course it is possible to hook the Cube to the internet).
However, the point of owning such a piece of hardware goes beyond practicality.
It's like owning, driving and maintaining a classic car.
An original Mini Cooper from the 60s will never match the comfort, the efficiency, the performance of whatever modern hot hatch, but from time to time it will just give you that thrill modern automobiles completely lack of.


But I am GOING to do this. BTW as far as cars go, I drive a 1990 Lamborghini Countach so my car goes well with my NeXT.

So if anyone can give me some advice as to how to do a massive processor & RAM upgrade and hook it to the internet, I would appreciate it.


Can't help with ram and processor upgrades, as my machines are basic ones.
However, if you search for posts under my name, you will find some hints on how to connect to the internet a 030 Cube and some other stuff too.
Pics are missing, though, due to broken links.
If you need them or have some specific requests, feel free to reach me privately.
As for the car, I have no doubts that using NeXTs will feel as rewarding and as eventful as driving your gorgeous Countach from the nineties.
Be ready to deal with same kind of impracticality, though.


Thanks for the help.

I will call mine the Super-Cube.


Cubes are sufficient unto themselves and aren't required to be practical.

Kind of like cats  :)


Well, in theory you can setup an exchange server at home on another computer that syncs with your everyday mail accounts securely and then have the mailbox accessible from within the LAN. The reason you gotta do it this way is if I recall NeXTmail has virtually no support for encryption.

The utter lack of an office suite (I seem to recall Microsoft refused to port Office to NeXTSTEP) also really blows the legs off basic functions. Sure there are still graphing, word processing and spreadsheet applications but none are really compatible with modern office software compared to a copy of Microsoft Office from the early 90's.

Multimedia is also a no-go. Even if to stream media as a server you jsut don't have the bandwidth to do HD. SD with one user connected, possibly, but that is it.

As mentioned, browsing is not possible anymore. I remember about ten years ago I could still do it but with the heavy use of Flash, javascript and HTML5 on top of everyone now using HTTPS every browser available for NeXTSTEP is unusable for the majority of websites out there.

In the end I have spent more time with the software that is available that is strikingly similar to first name software, but something's just a little off and using it as an IRC client.

-NeXT 68040 Cube with NS 3.3 and 64Mb ram


The only practical use for me was to learn software development on NeXTSTEP, for the sheer pleasure of it. It is of some interest if you keep in mind how advanced it was in the 90's. It can also be interesting if you see it as a challenge, considering how limited the hardware is.

That being said, I agree with the others : modern computing on a NS/OS workstation isn't feasible.
Happy owner of a NeXTstation Turbo Color.


My solution to this is- to add both OSX and/or Win 7 to the system on a separate drive.

You can then boot to windows, NEXTStep or OSX. Just like a multiboot system I have on my own laptop.

A separate card with more RAM and multiple processors in the GHZ range will be on that card.

I am suggesting much the same thing that Orange Systems did with Macs to give them IBM compatibility in the 1990s. They built a card with a whole IBM PC on it- chip, ram, HD and so on. Then you plugged the card-computer into a slot on a power mac.

All of my slots are free so I just need to design the card.

The difference is I am not trying to "jury rig" NEXTSTep to do things it cannot do. BUT I do want to upgrade the processor that NEXTStep uses. I believe someone on this thread said it could handle a Pentium I at 133MHZ. Ok that would be a great upgrade.

I know this sounds ambitious and a little silly. I mean, why put an IBM/MAC inside a NeXT? Just use a Mac with Parallels or VMware. The answer is I am  tinkerer and enthusiast.

I am trying to climb the proverbial mountain because it is there, so to speak.

And be nice and helpful to me on this one you experts- today is my birthday ;)

Thanks again for all of your input and advice.



You'd have to run the i386 version of NEXTSTEP OS on normal white PC hardware, not a cube, if you wanted to have the fastest NeXT setup.
I know that there are accelerator cards for the Amiga (which is also has a 68k) which mimics the m68k so maybe something is doable for the NeXT although being a huge job.

If I were to own a real cube, though, I would probably use it for light web browsing, (it seems to be fast enough and quite usable inside of Previous, the emulator)
news readers, word processing, chatting on IRC, but mostly the terminal app, so I could telnet into my iMac and do command line stuff on that nice keyboard and megapixel display. Using it for these kinds of tasks wouldn't make you feel like you're being less productive for using it.

It seems you could use it for mail too ( but I've never tried it.

ps always wanted a countach, nice :wink:


Thanks, how EXACTLY do I browse the web? Can you advise me?



Quote from: "JohnK801"Thanks, how EXACTLY do I browse the web? Can you advise me?


I can try to help as much as I can. The cube has an ethernet interface built in so I think you might just have to connect it to your router via the RJ45. Then you'll probably have to configure the cube for the network using the HostManager app (found in NextAdmin, click on Local... in the HostManager app menu)

I'm not too familiar with this step so you might need to ask around on the forum.

After getting networking up and running, I'd use the Terminal and the ftp client to connect to an ftp server and download the web browser OmniWeb. It's available on the web here:
But I don't know any NeXT FTP servers, you might need to ask around as I didn't have much luck having a quick search.

Feel free to ask more as I was a bit vague but it generally is how I would go about it.


If you have a 030 machine, you also need an adapter and some other bites, just follow the thread "Black Hardware" > "Networking Guide" and you will find basically anything you need.
However, no matters if you have a 040 or 030 machines, browsing today's internet with a 25+ years old piece of hardware is an utterly lousy experience. It's technically doable and for sure I personally advise you to pursue this project for the sake of learning something and having some fun trying, but means not it's of any practical use.
You can browse this forum (very slowly, though), for example, but indeed little else, just text based sites.
It might be something decent via software emulators, but at the end of the day it will taste unnecessarily complicated and artificial, especially considering that modern Apple OSes are still partially based on the very same foundations.

Rob Blessin Black Hole

Hello All: So we are working on a path to this with Brian Howard and Brian Archer.  

So Brian has a working solution here

Here is the modded ATX power supply in a cube , yes this powers a cube motherboard  

So why not go faster like the countach thinking  I9  mini ITX board, yep we are working on it , the advantages here is it screams for a few thousand more , generates a lot less heat ...... then there is this .... holy smokes, were we are going we won't need roads!

We'll get her done!
Rob Blessin President computerpowwow ebay
303-741-9998 Serving the NeXT Community  since 2/9/93

Rob Blessin Black Hole

Hello All: So we are working on a path to this with Brian Howard and Brian Archer.  

So Brian has a working solution here

Here is the modded ATX power supply in a cube , yes this powers a cube motherboard  

So why not go faster like countach like I7 ITX , yep we are working on it mini , the advantages here is it screams for a few hundred more , generates a lot less heat holy smokes!

I had the Super Cube published awhile back

lol so my mom and dad always would laugh because for many years I kept  taking there old pc and upgrading what started out as a 286 through Core2 Duo now he prefers his Ipad , mom still struggles with the Iphone but in their 80's they are doing well and  heck of a lot less tech support for me sometimes. My dad enjoyed the many missions for me picking up NeXT's around country , especially after he retired from United!

We'll get her done! 8)
Rob Blessin President computerpowwow ebay
303-741-9998 Serving the NeXT Community  since 2/9/93