(2019-05-28) 30-plus Years Of HyperCard The Missing Link To The Web

30-plus years of HyperCard, the missing link to the Web. This piece originally ran on May 30, 2012 as Hypercard approached its 25th anniversary, and it appears unchanged below.

Five cool HyperCard stacks

HyperCard allowed you to create "stacks" of cards, which were visual pages on a Macintosh screen. You could insert "fields" into these cards that showed text, tables, or even images. You could install "buttons" that linked individual cards within the stack to each other and that played various sounds as the user clicked them

1. Myst is probably the most famous project in HyperCard history

2. Before Myst, the Miller brothers made a splash with The Manhole (1987)

3. The staff of the Whole Earth Catalog got wind of HyperCard even before it was put on the market in 1987.

4. You can check a YouTube video of the HyperCard-based Time Table of History

5. Last but not least was the Voyager Company interactive book catalogue.

The choice of HyperCard was "logical," a review of Voyager's output explained. Hypercard, "modeled around the idea of a stack of cards, closely emulated the behavior of a book."

Not only that, but HyperCard included a scripting language called "Hyper Talk" that a non-programmer like myself could easily learn.

What ever happened to it? I searched around and found venture entrepreneur and coder Tim Oren's 2004 eulogy for the program, written the week that Apple withdrew the software from the market. HyperCard's problem, he argued, was that Apple never quite figured out what the software was for.

In an angst-filled 2002 interview, Bill Atkinson confessed to his Big Mistake. If only he had figured out that stacks could be linked through cyberspace, and not just installed on a particular desktop, things would have been different.

"I grew up in a box-centric culture at Apple. If I'd grown up in a network-centric culture, like Sun, HyperCard might have been the first Web browser. My blind spot at Apple prevented me from making HyperCard the first Web browser."

"HyperCard is based upon hypertext," Gary Kildall told Stewart Cheifet

*Where did Wei derive inspiration for his "ViolaWWW" web browser? He took his lead from a program that he found fascinating, even though he did not have a Mac of his own.

"HyperCard was very compelling back then, you know graphically, this hyperlink thing," Wei later recalled. "I got a HyperCard manual and looked at it and just basically took the concepts and implemented them in X-windows,"*

In its two decade life span, HyperCard was enormously successful, and it succeeded all over the world

As late as August 2002, there were probably 10,000 HyperCard developers.

When Tim Berners-Lee's innovation finally became popular in the mid-1990s, HyperCard had already prepared a generation of developers who knew what Netscape was for.


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