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HIGH STYLE : The Next Computer Fashion of the ‘90s

FOR A LONG time, computer lovers referred to the NeXT computer as “vaporware"--it sounded great but was never quite ready to enter production. Everything about it sounded larger than life, including the $100,000 fee reportedly paid to Paul Rand to design the logo (that’s $25,000 per letter).

The NeXT is the brainchild of Steve Jobs, co-creator of the original Apple computer and the Macintosh. Jobs claims that computers have a 10-year life span: The IBM PC (introduced in 1981) is moribund, the Macintosh (introduced in 1984) has peaked, and the ‘90s, he boasts, will belong to the NeXT. Instead of a conventional floppy or hard disk, the NeXT incorporates a state-of-the-art removable, erasable optical drive. And its screen resolution is nearly twice that of the Mac, to better display the reference books in digital form that come bundled with the computer, including the complete works of Shakespeare and Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.

As a design object, the NeXT (for $10,000) fascinates. Instead of the customary beige-colored keyboard, mouse and monitor, NeXT’s are stark black. That plus the jazzy connectors evoke an Art Deco look. The incongruous mix of advanced technology and ‘30s future-world styling evokes the phantasmagoric worlds of such ‘80s movies as “Batman,” “Blade Runner” and “Brazil.” Such unusual looks help persuade buyers that the NeXT really is different from previous personal computers.

The NeXT computer system is available at all Businessland stores .

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