NeXTSTEP (also written NeXTstep, NeXTStep, and NEXTSTEP) is the object-oriented, multitasking operating system developed by NeXT Computer to run on its range of proprietary workstation computers, such as the NeXTcube, and later, other computer architectures.
Nextstep 1.0 was released on September 18, 1989, after several previews starting in 1986. The last version, 3.3, was released in early 1995, by which time it ran not only on the Motorola 68000 family processors used in NeXT computers, but also Intel x86, Sun SPARC, and HP PA-RISC-based systems. Apple's Mac OS X is a direct descendant of NeXTSTEP.
NeXTSTEP was a combination of several parts:
NeXTSTEP was notable for the last three items. The toolkits offered considerable power, and were used to build all of the software on the machine. Distinctive features of the Objective-C language made the writing of applications with NeXTSTEP far easier than on many competing systems, and the system was often pointed to as a paragon of computer development, even a decade later.
NeXTSTEP's user interface was refined and consistent, and introduced the idea of the Dock, carried through OpenStep and into Mac OS X, and the Shelf. NeXTSTEP also created or was among the very first to include a large number of other GUI concepts now common in other operating systems: 3D "chiseled" widgets, large full-color icons, system-wide drag and drop of a wide range of objects beyond file icons, system-wide piped services, real-time scrolling and window dragging, properties dialog boxes ("inspectors"), window modification notices (such as the saved status of a file), etc. The system was among the first general-purpose user interfaces to handle publishing color standards, transparency, sophisticated sound and music processing (through a Motorola 56000 DSP), advanced graphics primitives, internationalization, and modern typography, in a consistent manner across all applications.
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