NeXT, Inc. (later NeXT Computer, Inc. and NeXT Software, Inc.) was an American computer and software company founded in 1985 by Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs. Based in Redwood City, California, the company developed and manufactured a series of computer workstations intended for the higher education and business markets. NeXT was founded by Jobs after he was forced out of Apple, along with several co-workers. NeXT introduced the first NeXT Computer in 1988, and the smaller NeXTstation in 1990. The NeXT computers experienced relatively limited sales, with estimates of about 50,000 units shipped in total. Nevertheless, their innovative object-oriented NeXTSTEP operating system and development environment (Interface Builder) were highly influential.
The first major outside investment was from Ross Perot, who invested after seeing a segment about NeXT on a 1986 PBS documentary titled Entrepreneurs. In 1987, he invested $20 million in exchange for 16 percent of NeXT's stock and subsequently joined the board of directors in 1988.
NeXT later released much of the NeXTSTEP system as a programming environment standard called OpenStep. NeXT withdrew from the hardware business in 1993 to concentrate on marketing OPENSTEP for Mach, its own OpenStep implementation, for several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). NeXT also developed WebObjects, one of the first enterprise web application frameworks. WebObjects never became very popular because of its initial high price of $50,000, but it remains a prominent early example of a Web server based on dynamic page generation rather than on static content.
Apple purchased NeXT in 1997 for $429 million (equivalent to $683 million in 2019) and 1.5 million shares of Apple stock. The merger converted Steve Jobs from Chairman and CEO of NeXT to an advisory role at Apple, the company he had co-founded in 1976; and it promised to port NeXT's operating system to Macintosh hardware, combine it with the legacy application layer of Mac OS, and yield OS X. In following decades, the new operating system was renamed macOS and was adapted into the embedded multimedia platforms of iOS, watchOS, and tvOS to serve as the basis of iPhone and iPad.