HyperCard

Mac SE with HyperCard

Before the World Wide Web did anything, HyperCard did everything.

On photography assignment for Apple Canada in 1987, I had opportunity to play with the new Macintosh SE and I never looked back. I was so empowered by Macintosh, HyperCard and their combined power that my life and career transformed forever. See the actual photo shoot here.

I bought a Macintosh SE as soon as they were available. The “SE” included HyperCard a programming toolkit that was the first successful hypermedia system. History now finds HyperCard, developed by original Mac team member Bill Atkinson as  the missing link to the Web and the early browsers Mosaic and Netscape that surfed it.

HyperCard was based on editable index cards. Each card could hold all sorts of information that the user could define. Even more fantastic everything could be made interactive to a mouse click. Play a sound, link to another card. Endless fun. The “Hello World” of HyperTalk was  “put ‘Hello World’ “ which was astounding in its direct simplicity.  By combining real language terms it was easy enough to build: “put ‘Hello, today is ‘ & the date into ‘headline’ ” with the result being:

Hello today is March 2nd, 1987

Behind the deceptively simple interface, a sophisticated program combined database capabilities with a graphical, flexible, user-modifiable interface. HyperTalk scripting enabled run-time manipulation of data and the user interface. An interactive game known as MYST was HyperCard based and illustrated how powerful the software was.

I will never forget the day I read a memo on CompuServe that Compton had won a patent for linked information systems that would demand a royalty from me for my HyperCard programs! I wrote and article here.

Danny Goodman’s “The Complete Hypercard Handbook” was the “How-to” Bible for HyperCard which was used as the legal “prior art” which stopped Compton’s from owning the connectivity of information. There’s a story about that book in this post . Had they won there would be no world wide web as we know it today.

Over the years my  HyperCard Stacks ran GeoPhoto Studio’s accounting, assignment calendars and project-docket management. As time and technology marched forward the core programing advanced through iterations that included: SuperTalk, Lingo, PERL, PHP, LAMP database powered websites like WordPress, and currently as an iPad App.

Radically simple!

These are a few examples of the studio docket system, written in HyperCard, in use in a busy photo studio.

Please read more here:

  • Ars Technica: 25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web (Before the World Wide Web did anything, HyperCard did everything.)
  • TUAW  The Unofficial Apple Weblog: Many of the early Web browsers borrowed heavily from the design and functionality of HyperCard, with Mosaic and Netscape being the progenitors of today’s modern browsers.
  • Loper OS: Why Hypercard Had to Die (or things I didn’t understand about Steve Jobs at the time that make sense now)
  •  Mac SE  Release date March 2, 1987 on WikiPedia
  • SuperCard was first created by Bill Appleton and published by Silicon Beach Software in 1989.
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  1. […] HyperCard shipped with the launch of the Macintosh SE in the spring of 1987. See the product shot I did for Apple Canada.  That combination of personal computer and programming tools was revolutionary– see this post! […]

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