December 19-31: ScriptX, So Long Taligent, Apple Buys NeXT
Published December 30th, 2004

The last two weeks of the year are upon us, and this week's look back at Apple's history finds a couple of esoteric moments, as well as the one of the most pivotal moments in Apple's corporate life.

First, we'll start with the esoteric: It was this week in 1994 that Kaleida Labs shipped Media Player and ScriptX, one of the only technologies to come out of the joint venture between Apple and IBM. As we explain below, however, the products came too late to gain any true foothold in the emerging multimedia industry.

Funny enough, it was this week in 1995 that the other joint venture between Apple and IBM, Taligent, was absorbed by IBM. Taligent held much promise when it was launched, and its Super Cool™ operating system, code-named Pink, would have represented a major advance in the world of computing. Alas, like Kaleida, Taligent just didn't work out.

Lastly, it was this week in 1996 that Apple had one its most pivotal moments in its long, colorful history. Of course, we're talking about the buyout of NeXT Computer, and the eventual return of Steve Jobs to the helm of the company he funded some 20 years earlier. We have details of the buyout below, or you can find a lot more information in Owen Linzmayer's excellent Apple Confidential 2.0.

The other entries can be found in TMO's archives, and we link to articles whenever we can

December 19-31

1972: 17-year-old Steve Jobs officially drops out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon after only one semester of attending classes sporadically. He temporarily remains on campus, auditing classes and crashing with friends and in empty dorm rooms before returning to the San Francisco Bay Area. Though he would never complete his formal education, clearly his college experience was meaningful to him because, in 1991, Jobs would name his first son Reed Paul, after his college and his adoptive father.

1980: Steve Wozniak and Candice Carson Clark are engaged on Christmas, just weeks after Apple's IPO valued the co-founder's shares well in excess of US$100 million. Clark is an Apple employee and a former member of the U.S. Olympic kayak team that competed in Montreal in 1976. It is the second marriage for Wozniak, and would produce three children before ending in divorce in 1987.

1989: The University of Colorado grants Steve Wozniak an honorary doctor of science degree. Wozniak had studied electrical engineering for several semesters at the University of Colorado at Boulder beginning in 1968. He decided not to return the following year after being reprimanded for excessive use of the university's computer system.

1994: Apple files a petition, called a writ of certiorari, with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to review the lower court's decisions in its1988 copyright infringement case against Microsoft. It is a last-ditch effort to reverse a series of legal setbacks for Apple in its battle to blunt Microsoft's Windows juggernaut. The court would refuse to hear the case, putting an end to the seven-year, US$10 million legal battle.

On the same day that Apple files its petition with the court, its joint partnership with IBM-Kaleida Labs-finally ships Media Player and ScriptX, a multimedia engine. The new products are considered technologically sound, but rival firm Macromedia has already established a commanding lead with its competitive product, Shockwave for Director.

1995: After four years of effort and US$400 million in funding, Taligent is absorbed by IBM. The joint partnership with Apple was supposed to have produced Pink, an ambitious object-oriented operating system, but the only product it ever shipped was CommonPoint. When released in July 1995, CommonPoint comprised more than 100 object-oriented frameworks, providing developers with a powerful platform-independent model that supported interactive collaboration. Each partner retains a license to the jointly developed technologies held by the other, and Apple would eventually salvage Taligent's Unicode text classes for use in Mac OS 8's Text Encoding Converter as well as in Java.

1996: Apple announces purchase of NeXT Software in a friendly acquisition. In an attempt to make good on his promise to announce Apple's operating system strategy before year end, CEO Gil Amelio opts to purchase Steve Jobs' company instead of Be, Inc., run by Jean-Louis Gassée, former president of Apple Products. When the deal goes through on February 4, 1997, the total purchase price, including the fair value of the net liabilities assumed, is US$427 million. As the largest shareholder of NeXT, Jobs personally pockets US$100 million in cash and 1.5 million shares of Apple stock. Though he has no way of knowing it at the time, Amelio has simultaneously signed his own death warrant and given renewed life to Apple as Jobs will soon oust his acquirer and set the troubled company back on the path of innovation and profitability.