Stepstone, originally named Productivity Products International (PPI), was a software company founded in 1983 by Brad Cox and Tom Love, best known for releasing the original version of the Objective-C programming language.
PPI/Stepstone enjoyed modest success not only supplying semi-"object oriented" software, but also among those who wanted an ANSI C compiler on platforms that didn't otherwise support one — the Objective-C compiler produced code which could be input to a native C compiler, which often was K&R C. The ICpak 201 interface toolkit was submitted to the Open Software Foundation as a candidate for their interface standard but was not expected to win over Motif.
In April 1995, NeXT acquired the Objective-C trademark and rights from Stepstone. At the same time, Stepstone licensed back from NeXT the right to continue selling their Objective-C based products. As Apple Computer acquired NeXT a year later, they now hold the rights to Objective-C. The U.S. software company Stepstone appears to have gone out of business in the early 2000s.
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