5.0049 NeXT (1/68)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 14 May 91 22:23:46 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0049. Tuesday, 14 May 1991.

Date: Mon, 13 May 91 23:08:57 CDT
From: Richard Goerwitz <goer@sophist.uchicago.edu>
Subject: NeXT

Steve Mason asks some questions about the NeXT. We've been back and forth
on this one together, but it wouldn't hurt to move some of our discussion
out into this forum. I'm especially interested in the NeXT myself since
version 2.0 of the OS has come out. It's faster and more reliable. The
NeXT is not for people doing number crunching. But for people writing text
search and retrieval software, typesetting, and just generally exercizing
their Unix environment, it's a great little box.

SM says:

> (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.

The NeXT comes with a readable/writable CD unit. It's pretty slick. But
to read the TLG you'd need to interface an old-style CD unit to the NeXT.
I don't know if anyone's written the drivers to do this. Licensing agree-
ments once again prevent you from just moving the data to a NeXT CD.

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

Anything you can do with PostScript you can do with the NeXT. In fact,
one of the great things about the NeXT is that it has intrinsic PostScript
support. The screen is essentially a PostScript device! Also, the NeXT
hooks into dumb, cheap laser printers. Why? Because the NeXT does all
the work internally. No need for expensive PostScript hardware.

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

I have no idea whether WP on the NeXT is any good, but if other Unix WP im-
plementations are any guide, it should be fine. The real problem here is
that WP is more of an office WP than a true multilingual environment.

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

Interfacing with the internet is not difficult, since the software is
readily available for all Unix (or Mach-emulating-Unix) boxes. It's
really a matter of how well your university supports such connections.

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

The NeXT is a terrific development environment, since it runs most off-
the-shelf Unix applications. It also has a nice windowing system, and
is fairly inexpensive. I and my son often go over to our local NeXT
cluster and hang out with the Computer Science students. While I write
my text retrieval and analysis software, read news, reply to mail, etc.,
my son plays the wonderful poker, flight-simulation, fractal, and music-
playing software that comes in one or another of the demo directories.
The NeXT is easy enough to use that my five year-old has no trouble
navigating around the machine. I've installed most of the GNU software
on the NeXT. I've also built the Icon compiler and interpreter, and lots
of other software. The other day, I installed the (in)famous nethack
game on one (a huge 600-800k executable, with various auxiliary library
files). Everything seems to go in with only minimal tweaking. I love
the things. If I were a rich man, I'd go down tomorrow to our campus
computer store and purchase one. Virtually all my Semitic text search
and retrieval software would fare well under the extremely flexible
NeXT visual interface. I really can't wait until I can get my hands
on one.