As computers have proliferated, so has the number of operating systems that power them.  Each, of course, has its own set of supporters and detractors.

Despite the debate, UNIX is widely considered the winner in two categories: raw power for multitasking and networking.  And depth of obscurity for even the simplest commands.

As a result, UNIX has built an enthusiastic following, but primarily among those with a high degree of computer expertise - the scientists, engineers and academicians of the world.  Certainly there are simpler and more intuitive systems.  The problem is, they lack the power inherent in UNIX.

Choosing the operating system for the NeXT Computer was a key decision.  Given the capabilities of UNIX, it was also an obvious one.  The marriage of NeXT and UNIX provides an exceptional base for the networking and multitasking needs of the 90's.

But no amount of power has any relevance if it can't be put to use.  The challenge for NeXT was to remove the mystery from UNIX, to make it useable by every level of user.  The result it one of our biggest breakthroughs: a new user interface that is intuitive and graphical, and as the same time allows full access to the features of UNIX.

This interface makes it possible to access sophisticated functions simply by pointing with the mouse.  It also makes it possible for expert UNIX users to work exactly as they are accustomed.  If you are so inclined, you can summon a "command line" window and deal directly with UNIX, with all of its native warmth intact.

On the assumption that you do not have a NeXT Computer in front of you at present the screen at right will provide a simple demonstration of how easy it is to interact with our machine.  It's exactly what you would see when using the NeXT Computer: the NeXT workspace.

The multiple windows reflect the multitasking nature of UNIX, and perhaps its greatest single benefit.  Simultaneously, you can run as many programs as memory will allow (NeXT's standard eight megabytes will allow quite a few).  Though you might leave one program to work on another, that first program is capable of continuing with its task.

In practical terms, this means you can send or receive mail as you compose a document, while another program is busy recalculating an elaborate spreadsheet.  It also permits "cooperating applications": One program (a spreadsheet for example) can call upon another (such as Mathematica) to perform a function (a complex calculation) for which the second program is better suited.  Only when you work with true multitasking can you appreciate how confining a computer can be without it.

As for the graphical interface itself, the NeXT workspace introduces several significant innovations.

The window in the far right corner of the screen is called the Directory Browser. Rather than viewing all of your files and program icons, the Browser gives you an easy way to navigate through your work. Pick a folder in the left column and what's inside appears one column to the right. Pick a folder from this column, and its contents appear in the third column. And so on. The current selection appears as an icon on the right side of the Browser.

On the far right side of the screen is the dock, which lets you quickly access your most frequently used applications with a simple double-click. Drag the application icon here from the Browser, and it "snaps" into place. The dock can't be covered by any window, so the applications you place there will always be accessible. And every time you start the computer, the dock will appear just as it was when you last used it.

The NeXT System also makes a major improvement in the way menus are handled. On a big screen, it isn't convenient to go to the top line every time you want to make a menu selection. So in the NeXT workspace, you can locate your menus anywhere. Even though you may work with many windows in multitasking, the current menu will always rise to the top for easy access. Submenus can be torn off and placed where they are more accessible. And when you need more space, a single click will send the submenu away.

As for your unwanted files, you will notice there is no trash can in the NeXT workspace. Technology has advanced to the point where you can now safely dispose of your trash in a "black hole." It's located on the bottom right of the screen, thought it too can be placed where most convenient.

These examples alone should convey a sense of how NeXT has revolutionized UNIX. Because in a raw UNIX environment, accomplishing just these simple tasks would have required a healthy working knowledge of a very technical language.

Now UNIX is truly a tool for every level of user.  With this breakthrough interface, the enormous power of the NeXT Computer System can be wielded by anyone.  And for those in the mainstream of education and business, that power can have a startling impact.

About NeXT UNIX.  As any UNIX guru will tell you, UNIX exists in practically countless different forms.  After extensive study, NeXT chose the Mach UNIX kernel developed at Carnegie Mellon University.  Mach is compatible with the Berkeley Standard Distribution UNIX Version 4.3, but has a host of enhancements: shared memory, fast inter-process communication and potential multi-processing support through the use of threads.  But that's a subject for a brochure all its own.