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Comment on "Ten Years in the Making"
by Erik M. Buck — Dec 22
in 1996, I owned one of the most successful of the NeXTstep based software businesses. We produced high end development tools for aerospace (and games). Think Interface Builder for cockpits (and games). Our software was used via NeXTstep for SPARC and NeXTstep for Intel and later Openstep for Solaris and Openstep for Windows NT.

From 1997 through 2001, I attended WWDC and heard Mr. Jobs first promise free YellowBox runtimes and then inexpensive runtimes and then no runtimes. At the same time, the crowds at the WWDCs were openly hostile to all things NeXT. There was a perseption that NeXT took over Apple. The "stump the chumps/experts" events were a stronghold of the luddite guard. In fact, whenever a question about NeXT derived technology was asked, the panel refused to answer. The audience would boo down the person who asked the question.

It was a dark time to be a fan of what became Cocoa or EOF or D'OLE. It was a dark time to be in the business of Openstep software. As it happened, I was in San Jose for a Game Developer Conference when there was an informal Mac OS X 10.0 release party held at a winery in Sonoma. I know quite a few former Nexties and was graciously invited to the party. It was a blast, and I heard very encouraging stories about the changing culture inside Apple. Cocoa training classes were taking place inside Apple, and some of the internal ice and resentment was finally breaking (after the release).

In a related story, my company's largest customer was Rockwell Collins. Ironically, Gil Amelio was a former Rockwell Executive before moving to Apple. Back in 1997, it seemed that the world was a small place and the future of NeXT technology was secure at Apple. Later, when Apple refused to sell more Openstep licenses at any price, it became a crisis for my company and a problem for my customers. The small world became a large dark dangerous place. Apple has added great features to Openstep, but some features were dropped and have still not been restored.

It is my uninformed perception that Mac OS X saw the light of day in spite of the great majority within Apple and not because of it. To the extent that OS X and Cocoa are works or art or at least artful tools, it is (I think) owed to a very small number of people. Ten years later, it is clear that David had to defeat Goliath to deliver anything. As Mr. Jobs said, real artists ship. Thank goodness they did.
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