Most college students today have only known Apple as the fashionable, popular, commercially competent, and trend setting global technology giant it is today. However, 23 years ago Apple Computer, Inc. was struggling to survive while trying to sell Macs in a PC world centered around Microsoft Windows. Things began to change after Apple acquired NeXT in a surprise deal that was announced in the last week of 1996 and was completed on February 7, 1997.
Apple’s acquisition of NeXT Software 23 years ago most obviously provided the company with a modern operating system foundation. NeXT’s advanced software and development tools promised to replace the old Mac System Software that had debuted back in 1984. The “classic” Mac software platform had grown outdated and difficult to modernize without breaking the software that ran on it.
More importantly, however, the infusion of new management from NeXT served to clear out the unfocused fiefdoms at Apple that each sought to promote their own pet projects, often at the expense of other parts of the company.
With the way Jobs took over and made wholesale changes as well as inserting NeXT employees into almost every facet of the company, I always say today is the day NeXT acquired Apple.