March 1992

Music Kit unbundled from NeXTstep 3.0

by Lee Sherman

Redwood City, CA: The Music Kit, one of the crown jewels in NeXT's development environment, will no longer be bundled with NeXTstep when release 3.0 arrives. Rumors of its death, however, have been greatly exaggerated.

The kit, which contains software objects for the synthesis, performance, and composition of music, will be reincarnated in the hands of researchers at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), where many of the kit's principal architects originated. NeXT has agreed in principle to allow Stanford to take over support for the kit, sources said.

Under the terms of the deal, NeXT would become an industrial affiliate of the university, providing financial support for the Music Kit's continued development in the form of a graduate-student research fellowship. Past industrial affiliates have included Xerox, Symbolics, and Apple Computer.

Though maintained and supported by CCRMA, the software and source code will fall into the public domain.

Though missing the Music Kit, NeXTstep 3.0 will offer many features of interest to musicians, including a new MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) driver. Improvements to the Sound Kit, which allow for real-time mixing and better compression ratios, will help strengthen NeXT's role as a leader in digital-audio technology.

Commercial developers have been slow to adopt the NeXT's music programming tools. Many developers that had previously announced products for the music market, such as Opcode, Coda, and Mark of the Unicorn, failed to bring those products to market, limiting the NeXT's acceptance among professional musicians.

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