(2011-11-29) Why HyperCard Had To Die

Stanislav Datskovskiy: Why HyperCard Had to Die. do you now know why Steve Jobs killed HyperCard?

Here’s a clue: Apple never again brought to market anything resembling HyperCard.

The reason for this is that HyperCard is an echo of a different world. One where the distinction between the “use” and “programming” of a computer has been weakened and awaits near-total erasure. A world where the personal computer is a mind-amplifier, and not merely an expensive video telephone. A world in which Apple’s walled garden aesthetic has no place.

Jobs supposedly claimed that he intended his personal computer to be a “bicycle for the mind.” But what he really sold us was a (fairly comfortable) train for the mind. A train which goes only where rails have been laid down

What about open-source projects? Nothing there, either. Oh, there is no shortage of attempts. And all of them are failures for the same reason: they insist on being more capable, more complexity-laden than HyperCard. And thus, none of them can readily substitute for it.

The various HyperCard clones and HyperCard-influenced software lack HyperCard’s radical simplicity and the resulting explorability. Explorability of the “master of all you survey” variety matters. All of the extra features in a more feature-rich system like SuperCard (or even VB) are not harmless. There is a fundamental difference, especially for a child, between a system which you can fully wrap your mind around and one with countless mystery knobs.

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