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An important day in popular computing, 20 December is the day in 1996 that Apple purchased NeXT for $429 million and 1.5 million shares of Apple stock. This merger paved the way for the development of Apple’s OS X operating system, much of which is based on the foundations of NeXT’s OPENSTEP operating system.

The Apple of your eye. (© All Rights Reserved)

The Apple of your eye.
(© All Rights Reserved)

The Apple/NeXT story is one of those amusing tales in modern day computing.

In 1985, after a power struggle with Apple’s board of directors, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs left Apple and founded Next Computer, Inc. (later stylised as NeXT), a computer company focused on the development of computer workstations for the higher education and business markets. Initially focusing on hardware, NeXT’s attention moved to software when it developed the innovative NeXTSTEP operating system. Much of NeXTSTEP was released as the OpenStep programming environment, and NeXT began working exclusively on developing and marketing OPENSTEP, it’s implementation of OpenStep.

Recognising the potential of OPENSTEP, Apple purchased NeXT in 1996, thus providing Steve Jobs with a way back into the company he left more than a decade before.  Serving first as an advisor to Apple, and soon taking over as CEO, Jobs proceeded to turn Apple around from near bankruptcy to profitability in less than 2 years.

And he never looked back – we all know the Apple/Jobs success story of the early 21st century, when Apple went from strength to strength, to become the worlds most valuable publicly traded company in 2011.

Without a doubt one of the greatest turnaround fairy tales in business history.