‘The Secret Call to Andy Grove That May Have Helped Apple Buy NeXT’

Fascinating story (written in 2018 — I hadn’t seen it until recently, though) from Chris MacAskill, who was the head of developer relations at NeXT in the 90s:

Sometime later Steve wandered in my office and asked if I thought porting NeXTstep to Intel was a good idea. Awkward. Did he know? I asked if Intel was going to help. Steve said they offered two great engineers to work alongside ours. They thought it could be done in 6 months. We’d have to keep it super secret from the outside world. Could I act as relationship manager?

This wasn’t as strange as it sounded because I was managing the IBM relationship. Steve had licensed NeXTstep for them to use on their workstations years ago and they had a team living at NeXT working on it. We didn’t have much faith in that relationship.

“Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea, Steve. The 66 megahertz 80486 chip?”

“Yeah. Intel’s graphics primitives are shit so it probably won’t be any faster than the 33 megahertz 68040 we’re using now.”

Six months later I carried a beige Intel-based computer from a windowless room to my office, wrapped in a black cover. It was exactly twice the speed of our sexy black machines.

Thursday, 19 March 2020