|Technology that is truly revolutionary often
takes some getting used to. But it soon becomes such an integral
part of our lives, it's hard to imagine being without it.
Computer graphics are a good example. Back when
the primary tool was the typewriter, words and numbers alone met most
users' needs quite nicely. The very idea of graphics seemed
needlessly extravagant. Now, of course, graphic images in computers
are taken for granted. Anything less is archaic.
From NeXT's point of view, the use of sound has many
parallels. Since everyday applications have never really
incorporated sound, it isn't considered a necessity by today's standards.
But as our use of computers becomes more sophisticated, its potential
comes into sharper focus.
Without question, there will come a day when computers
without sound seem hopelessly antiquated. The NeXT System brings that day
Built into the computer's basic design, alongside the
central processing unit and the floating-point unit, is a third processor
dedicated to the task of handling digital signals - one common example
being sound. Digital signals, by their very nature, present themselves as
horrifically large arrays of numbers, and the Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
has the horsepower to process them with exceptional speed. The result is
that it can produce sound with all the quality of a compact disc: a 44.1
kHz sampling rate, 16-bit resolution and full stereo.
To make the use of sound as convenient as possible,
audio signals enter and exit the NeXT Computer at the MegaPixel Display. A
microphone jack and speaker are both built in. In addition, the display
has a jack for Walkman-type headphones and gold-plated stereo RCA jacks
that allow for connecting to an independent audio system.
Because sound is integral to the system design,
producing high quality sound with a NeXT Computer requires no expensive
expansion cards or options. The capability is there for everyone, so
developers have the opportunity to feature sound in programs designed for
Electronic mail, to cite one example, can now include
voice messages. This allows you to communicate not only with the
perfect detail of an electronic document, but with the urgency and the
enthusiasm of the human voice.
Voice annotation is one obvious use for sound, but it's
only one in a wide range of uses. NeXT technology makes it possible
for applications to include any kind of sound a person can hear or
Scientific simulations can provide audio, as well as
visual, feedback. Businesses can us computers to train employees,
with demonstrations that are both seen and heard. Medical students
can study anatomical models, hearing the sounds of the human heart and
lunges as they would be heard through a stethoscope.
With remarkable realism, the sound chip built into the
NeXT Computer can actually synthesize musical instruments from pure
None of this would be possible if it weren't for the
almost unfathomable speed with which the DSP chip processes complex
digitized signals. And it is this great power taht makes even more
Within this single chip lies the technology required to
achieve the functions of a fax machine or a modem. Even more
thought-provoking are the possibilities it creates in the area of speech
recognition. Today, there is fascinating work being done in business
and education to tap the potential of the NeXT System's ability to process
and respond to the human voice.
By building this powerful DSP chip into the NeXT
Computer's basic architecture, NeXT is casting its vote clearly on the
side of the future - with a technology that can be put to exceptional use