It was a not particularly interesting phone call between an Apple exec and a midlevel manager at NeXT. However, as Cult of Mac’s ‘Today in Apple History’ noted, it started a chain overs that led to the creation of OS X and the return of Steve Jobs.
Garrett L. Rice’s communication with Ellen Hancock, Apple’s chief technology officer, is the first formal step in a long process. It ultimately leads to Apple buying NeXT, the creation of OS X, and Steve Jobs returning home to the company he co-founded… By November 1996, Jobs was speaking with Amelio again (albeit only very recently). Jobs advised that Be was not the right choice for Apple. The November 25 phone call from NeXT’s Rice presented the option Jobs surely wanted all along: that Apple acquire the rights to put a version of OpenStep on Macs. By early December, Jobs visited Apple HQ for the first time since his ouster. A deal would bring both NeXT and Jobs aboard — the best decision Apple made in years.