Toll-gate on the information highway


Remember HyperCard?

Inspiration for the world wide web and the freedom of information!

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!

This period was the earliest beginnings the interactive information age and we are fortunate that it happened as early as it did. A community of HyperCard developers quickly developed and began creating all sorts of wonderful interactive content including the original Myst.

Myst for iOS

In 1993, a San Diego company called Compton’s New Media won U.S. Patent No. 5,241,671. Their patent described multimedia on a CD-ROM as proprietary, and raised a storm of copyright and multimedia controversy.

“Everything that is now multimedia and computer-based utilizes this invention,” Compton’s chief executive Stanley Frank told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1993, Frank noted, of course, that basically everyone in the industry now owed it money.

You might imagine Wall Street was delighted, however programmers working around the world were outraged. The problem of “prior art” was quickly solved with a copy of Danny Goodman‘s book “The complete HyperCard” and the patent was revoked. Comptons never gave up the fight and as recently as 2008 an article outlining the controversy continued –Encyclopaedia Britannica [Compton’s parent company] revives notorious multimedia patent, attacks GPS manufacturers.

icon HyperCard had a significant impact on the web as it inspired the creation of both HTTP itself (through its influence on Tim Berners-Lee’s colleague Robert Cailliau), and JavaScript (whose creator, Brendan Eich, was inspired by HyperTalk). It was also a key inspiration for ViolaWWW, an early web browser. Wikipedia has a nice history on HyperCard which includes further details.

cursorThe pointing-finger cursor used for navigating stacks later found its way into the first web browsers, as the hyperlink cursor.

HooPmedia and HyperCard are linked together in this post!

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