5.0040 The NeXT & Humanists (1/43)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 13 May 91 22:17:59 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0040. Monday, 13 May 1991.

Date: Fri, 10 May 91 16:42:58 EDT
From: Steve Mason <SHLOMO@VM1.YorkU.CA>
Subject: NeXT and humanists

I have just spent an entertaining hour or so reading through the
digests of earlier HUMANIST discussion of the NeXT (1988-1989 mainly).
The general impression I received was that, back in those days, the
machine was admired for some of its features but not recommended for
general humanities computing. A big drawback was its lack of
applications (such as a sophisticated word-processor and the ability
to handle non-Roman characters), not to mention a prohibitive cost.

Now that the NeXT has appeared in my campus computer store, with
a very attractive price tag (even in Canadian currency!) and sporting
a customized WordPerfect, I wonder how those of you who know something
about the machine regard it. From the digests, it appears that several
HUMANISTs had quite a stake in the development of various programmes;
several others attended presentations in the mysterious pre-release days.

My computing needs are basically four: (a) word processing in
English, Greek, and Hebrew; (b) text retrieval and analysis, especially
the TLG and related materials via CD-ROM; (c) electronic communication; and
(d) high-quality printed output (what some are willing to call "camera ready").
Clearly, DOS and Mac (and some others) will do the job one way or another,
and each has its advocates. What I'd really like to know is whether other
ordinary HUMANISTs like me (not the programming genii, with all respect)
have purchased the NeXT and are using it to good effect. In particular:

(1) Is there a way for this machine to read the TLG? I gather that there
isn't, since John Baima reported back then that the development atmosphere
was not conducive.

(2) Does it yet handle non-Roman characters and diacritics? Are there
aesthetically pleasing fonts for the 400 dpi PostScript printer?

(3) How is WordPerfect for the NeXT working out? Is it much like 5.1 for
DOS? More limited? More capable?

(4) Does the ethernet interface built in afford any advantages for
communication with mainframes and internet, or is it only for local

If someone can report on the general utility of the NeXT in 1991, I'd
greatly appreciate it. Perhaps others would be interested too.

Steve Mason,
Humanities, York U.