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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 273
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:21 am    Post subject: The NeXT community? Reply with quote

My trip down the nostalgia lane continues as I tinker with my resurrected slab... I realize more and more once again how amazing the system was and still is. In fact, as I type this on a modern Mac, I miss some aspects of NEXTSTEP and I wish they were retained in OS X. But I digress...

With all my interest in the black hardware recently reinvigorated, I cannot help but to wonder why the current NeXT community is so small? And I don't mean to say that this is a bad thing, but I am just curious.

More specifically, before using my Cube (that I no longer have) and my Turbo Color, back in the 1992 era, I used an Atari ST. I cannot get over how active the Atari community still is! Take for example the Atari Coldfire Project a.k.a FireBee.

Is this continuing activity purely based on the total worldwide sales of the Atari systems when compared to the NeXT? Or perhaps most people that enjoyed their NeXT machines moved on to OS X and left the past completely behind?

I have to say that in my case, out of all the various computer systems that I owned or used in the past, the NeXT is the only one that feels like a classic historical car that I want to baby and enjoy...
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Jsmirand



Joined: 06 Nov 2011
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:35 am    Post subject: Community Reply with quote

Hello,
For what its worth, it just grew by one, I recently acquired some NeXT equipment and am having lots of fun with it! I put a small write up together at http://www.johnmiranda.com/next.htm and will introduce myself in the Black Hardware forum... Smile John
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Mr Ksoft



Joined: 12 Mar 2006
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the community has stayed small because there is quite a large barrier to entry. Very few people had black hardware when it came out, and secondhand equipment is extremely expensive, white hardware has a very small list of supported hardware, and any emulation is rather poor (though that could change in the future with Previous and related projects).
I started computing post-NeXT, so I never had a chance to own black hardware, and while I've been looking into it for about five years I have never obtained any because it's just too costly. I just recently got all the parts I needed to put together a PC that'll run Openstep, so I guess after all this time I'm finally going to be able to join in. But stories like mine can probably show why there is such slow growth, or even stagnation, in the community.
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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 273
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the community guys!
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NeXTsociety



Joined: 29 Nov 2007
Posts: 453
Location: Grass Valley, CA.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I often think of the same thing, why it seems so little activity compared to other 80s/90s platforms. Even BeOS via Haiku seems to have more activity.

I really prefer the older NeXTSTEP style docks with something like Fiend over the current OS X dock. Also prefer the clean look of the NeXTSTEP desktop versus OS X.

I enjoy tinkering with NeXTSTEP but the community is much smaller I supposed and therefore not much activity other than discussing the past. All the while Atari and Amiga and others have mods, upgrade boards, new systems, etc...

Maybe because NeXTSTEP basically became OS X all the Apple systems are the extension of the famous Cube but other than Apple's G4 Cube, no other system has caught my interest since then. I owned and like the Macbook Air and thought that rather cool but desktop wise, I miss the G4 Cube. Sleek and slick looking like the NeXTcube.

tj
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mcdermd



Joined: 14 Nov 2011
Posts: 24
Location: Corvallis, OR

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a recent entrant also. After 20 years of wanting a NeXT machine, I finally picked up a mono turbo slab. Pitz hooked me up with a monitor locally and I have been doing a lot of lurking and reading around here to get it all set up. It's just as amazing as I remember it being in 1992 when I first saw them in my brother's department at Oregon State University (and the primordial peak.org).

So while there may be little activity, I'm grateful for what activity there is.

I'm a long-time Mac user, cut my teeth on HP 3000 & 9000, currently work in a Slackware driven datacenter via an OS X desktop and keep adding to my old Mac collection
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dpny



Joined: 22 Nov 2011
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think part of the issue is money: NeXT hardware can still run US$1,000+, which is a lot of money for 15 year old hardware, especially when you can pick up a used Sun for the cost of shipping. The cost, IMO, keeps NeXT machines out of the hands of a larger body of tinkerers. Add to that the fact there just isn't that much NeXT hardware out there when compared to other, older machines and you have the makings of a boutique scene.

I'd love to have a color slab, if only to look at. But I just can't countenance spending the money on one given all the other stuff I need to spend money on.
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nextchef



Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 1007
Location: Missouri, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You also must remember that NeXT hardware was never really a "consumer" oriented product, like Atari, Commodore and the like were. It was a very expensive machine, and out of reach of most individuals. I, like a lot of people, had my first experience with black hardware back in college/university. It was the magical machine that was in the back room of the department, and most were kept away from it. No one I knew who had one actually bought it using their own money. All were purchased with university or "grant" money. It was a piece of expensive lab equipment, and used and treated like all the other expensive lab equipment. It was purchased for a specific task, and that is what it did. Occasionally people would hang around late in the department and "borrow" some time on it, all the while hoping not to do something that would mess it up. The machines you did "regular stuff" or messed around on were Macs, or the occasional PC if you were trying to be the rebel in the department.
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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 273
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting that you mention the G4 Cube...

After I (temporarily) retired my Turbo Color around 1997/1998 I switched to building PCs running Linux and also win2k. Then in 2003 I picked up a used G4 Cube, outfitted it with 1G RAM, 120G 7200k hard disk, a modified Geforce 3 card, a quiet base fan and a 1.2GHz Sonnet accelerator. We are still using the cube in the kitchen area for recipe lookup and some light browsing...

And just last week someone was selling a fairly mint basic G4 Cube locally so I picked it up for $100 (a complete kit including the monitor)! It will soon become a NFS server for my NeXT Smile I just finished cleaning it and installed in it a nice and quiet Panasonic fan with a series resistor to make it silent. It actually feels reasonably quick running 10.4.11.

The G4 Cube is bound to become a real collectors item some time in the future, I think.

NeXTsociety wrote:
Maybe because NeXTSTEP basically became OS X all the Apple systems are the extension of the famous Cube but other than Apple's G4 Cube, no other system has caught my interest since then. I owned and like the Macbook Air and thought that rather cool but desktop wise, I miss the G4 Cube. Sleek and slick looking like the NeXTcube.

tj
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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 273
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that all of you pretty much hit the nail on the head - it has to be the high cost and the small market share.

I still remember seeing a NeXT roadshow some time around 1990 when I was in the middle of my undergraduate studies. My jaw was on the floor from what I saw, and then all of me was on the floor when I saw the pricing.

This has not stopped me though from dreaming about getting one. I could most definitely not afford it, particularly since at that time I just arrived in Canada from Europe with my parents, my brother and pretty much only the clothes on our backs...

...and then around 1993 I purchased a second hand '040 Cube for what was to me an insane amount of money.

So I can completely understand how so many people could only dream about having one of these machines until they have been obsoleted and dumped onto the second hand market.

I am unbelievably grateful that we still are a community and we have a place to "gather"!

(Apologies to everyone for a group response)
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dpny



Joined: 22 Nov 2011
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2011 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

t-rexky wrote:
Interesting that you mention the G4 Cube...The G4 Cube is bound to become a real collectors item some time in the future, I think.


Friend if mine rescued a Cube from a place she freelanced at.
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Mathias



Joined: 17 Dec 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:57 am    Post subject: Re: The NeXT community? Reply with quote

t-rexky wrote:
More specifically, before using my Cube (that I no longer have) and my Turbo Color, back in the 1992 era, I used an Atari ST. I cannot get over how active the Atari community still is! Take for example the Atari Coldfire Project a.k.a FireBee.

Is this continuing activity purely based on the total worldwide sales of the Atari systems when compared to the NeXT? Or perhaps most people that enjoyed their NeXT machines moved on to OS X and left the past completely behind?


I am the one who is trying to coordinate the Atari Coldfire Project which is doing the Firebee computer. I like to quickly tell you what I think about this topic.

In my opinion there are two important facts:

1) The Atari always was (or tried to be) a cheap computer. So it was mainly for people who did not have the money to switch to new computers quickly. I belive who was able to own a NeXT was able to get new computers as well.

2) We as Atari Community had the "luck" that Atari left us totally alone very early. After 1996 when Atari was sold to JTS nothing came from this brand/concern that helped the 16/32 Atari community. So we had to self-organize ourselves very early. It is both a blessing and a curse. Belssing because of the knowledge for more than 15 years, if we donīt do it nobody will do it for us. A curse, as there is no central "authority" that will lead somewhere. That resoults for example in 5 different TCP/IP stacks at Atari Wink

But it makes our community stable, even if it is much smaller than Amiga community for example.

I just can suggest you, to try getting things up and running. Activities - especial dedicated hardware is attractive. And more stable niche plattforms support everyone of us! Wink
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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 273
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:16 am    Post subject: Re: The NeXT community? Reply with quote

Hello Mathias,

Welcome to the NeXT forum and thank you for your insight. I think you are right on with both of your facts. I have to say that I was completely blown away when I came across the firebee project a few months ago and I am seriously considering picking one up to satisfy my pre-NeXT sentiments and cravings...

Another thing occurred to me as well while reading all the posts and related to your item number 2. In the NeXT community we have almost no low level documentation. On the m68k hardware NeXT used a number of ASICs that are undocumented outside of NeXT / Apple. The same applies to the OS, and with the complexity of Mach and the OPENSTEP / NEXTSTEP layer it is impossible to reverse engineer it without a "heroic" level of effort.

On the Atari side there was multitude of documentation that was either available or leaked out of Atari, including most of the sources for GEM. If we only had some of that on the NeXT side then a lot of lower level activity could continue more easily...

...if only.

Mathias wrote:
I am the one who is trying to coordinate the Atari Coldfire Project which is doing the Firebee computer. I like to quickly tell you what I think about this topic.

In my opinion there are two important facts:

1) The Atari always was (or tried to be) a cheap computer. So it was mainly for people who did not have the money to switch to new computers quickly. I belive who was able to own a NeXT was able to get new computers as well.

2) We as Atari Community had the "luck" that Atari left us totally alone very early. After 1996 when Atari was sold to JTS nothing came from this brand/concern that helped the 16/32 Atari community. So we had to self-organize ourselves very early. It is both a blessing and a curse. Belssing because of the knowledge for more than 15 years, if we donīt do it nobody will do it for us. A curse, as there is no central "authority" that will lead somewhere. That resoults for example in 5 different TCP/IP stacks at Atari Wink

But it makes our community stable, even if it is much smaller than Amiga community for example.

I just can suggest you, to try getting things up and running. Activities - especial dedicated hardware is attractive. And more stable niche plattforms support everyone of us! Wink
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gtnicol



Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 525
Location: Rhode Island, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One somewhat complicating factor is that some of that source code is without a doubt still used in modern Apple devices. That said, a lot of code *did* come out... the underlying kernel was open sourced, for example.

Part of the problem is that NeXT hardware was relatively advanced for the time... more comparable to SGI, Sun and DEC than a PC, so reverse engineering or reproducing it isn't all that easy. Having a PS/2+VGA adapter it will at least make it possible for people to grab an old mono NeXT slab and play with it, providing a cheap entry point.

However, from what I've seen, everyone wants the NeXT cube, and there aren't that many out there, and they're still expensive for hobbyists.
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t-rexky



Joined: 09 Jan 2011
Posts: 273
Location: Snowy Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually placed an email with someone high at Apple with a question about possibility of releasing some NS/OS source code and also the m68k hardware specs. I don't really expect a positive response, but I though it was worth a try even if there was only a smallest chance...

I would love to have a pristine condition cube, but with living space limitations a slab is much more practical. I also have a feeling that we are approaching an inflection point in the pricing of the NeXT hardware and the prices will start climbing, although I might be completely off with this. So now might be a good time to buy, especially for slabs.

gtnicol wrote:
One somewhat complicating factor is that some of that source code is without a doubt still used in modern Apple devices. That said, a lot of code *did* come out... the underlying kernel was open sourced, for example.

Part of the problem is that NeXT hardware was relatively advanced for the time... more comparable to SGI, Sun and DEC than a PC, so reverse engineering or reproducing it isn't all that easy. Having a PS/2+VGA adapter it will at least make it possible for people to grab an old mono NeXT slab and play with it, providing a cheap entry point.

However, from what I've seen, everyone wants the NeXT cube, and there aren't that many out there, and they're still expensive for hobbyists.
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