NeXTSTEP on non NeXT Computers

The first version of NeXTstep was written to run on the SPARC reduced instruction set computing (RISC) chip. But in 1988, when NeXT released its first workstation, painted black and called NeXT computer, it ran on Motorola's slower complex instruction set computing (CISC) 68030 chip. In 1989, IBM signed a deal with NeXT to license NeXTstep to run on Big Blue's RISC chip. But Jobs now says that while a long-term relationship with IBM will move forward, "it's no secret that the project to put NeXT software on the IBM RS/6000 has broken down."

By February 1992, its highest-powered machine processing at 25 million instructions per second (MIPS), NeXT still lacked a server-class box.

At NeXTWorld Expo Jan 1992 in San Francisco, Jobs announced that NeXTStep running on Intel's 486 chips was available, making it run applications written for NeXTstep on 486-based PCs as well as on NeXT's proprietary hardware.

In 1992, technologists familiar with NeXT's plans to port for SPARC expressed concern that the vendor's strategy still wasn't nearly open enough. Jobs confirmed that the proposed port wouldn't use Sun's operating system and its version of UNIX. Instead, as it did for the Intel chip, Jobs says NeXT would build the software "top to bottom," including the operating system.

"I'm not sure that we will port to SPARC," says Jobs, "so it's all a bit speculative. But it turns out that we run standard Berkeley UNIX and most of those [securities firms' proprietary] applications are written on top of SunOS, which runs standard Berkeley UNIX. So most likely they would just compile over and run."

Sun later offered their SPARCstations 5, 20 and Voyager Series hardware running NeXTSTEP.