More than 3,000 people packed a concert hall to see a two-hour sound and light show during which high-tech genius Steve Jobs unveiled his long-awaited new computer, a sleek, black, powerful machine capable of storing more information than any other computer in its class.
"It's great to be back," Jobs, 33, told the invitation-only audience at Davies Symphony Hall Wednesday at the introduction of the first product of his new company, NeXT Inc.Experts said it was the most anticipated event in the industry since Apple Computer Inc. introduced its Macintosh personal computer four years ago. Jobs, who co-founded Apple in a garage and helped make it one of the industry's biggest success stories, had been forced out of the company in 1985.
He returned to a standing ovation from his peers and praise from NeXT's biggest investor, Dallas billionaire H. Ross Perot.
"I don't think Steve ever left the computer industry," Perot told a news conference later. "He did things when he was in his 20s that most of us don't do until we're 50."
The basic NeXT machine, aimed exclusively at universities, will cost $6,500, contain eight megabytes of internal memory and feature a 250-megabyte erasable optical disk for external storage. The external memory is expandable to 1.3 gigabytes, enough to store a million pages of information. There will also be a laser printer available that will sell for $2,000.
Its most novel feature is the "read-write" erasable optical disk, which is the computer's main storage system and is about the size of an audio compact disk. Users have so far been able only to play back recorded material on similar disks but have not been able to re-record on them.
NeXT is the first computer to deliver such a system.