Reminiscing about HyperCard: Twenty-Five Years Ago!

Dear Commons Community,

John Pavley has a short nostalgic blog posting on Apple’s HyperCard, the original stack-based software that provided the model for PowerPoint and the other presentation programs that blossomed in the 1990s and continue today.  Pavley comments that if Apple’s HyperCard was alive this year it would be 25-years-old.  Ars Technica has a retrospective on HyperCard, that reminds us what it was all about and it’s critical place in Internet history.  He reminisces that it was:

“Multimedia hyperlinking bundled with a programming environment that a grade schooler could master was the pinnacle of human technological progress! Even though I was a professional programmer (I knew how to code in C and had read all 3 volumes of Inside Macintosh) I created hundreds of HyperCard stacks, mostly for fun and some for profit. It was a black day in 2004 when HyperCard went the way of Dodo and the rotary phone.

Various development tools and programming environments have tried to provide HyperCard like “software construction kits” over the years: Adobe’s Flash, open source HTML & JavaScript, Google’s Blocky are just three that come to mind. All of these tools start out simple but eventually grow into digital jungles of complexity that lock out amateurs and grade school kids alike. You don’t find many 10-year-olds or school teachers writing W3C compliant HTML5 web applications.

But the original motivations that inspired Bill Atkinson to create HyperCard are more relevant than ever: In the future there will be two kinds of people: Those who use computers and those who are used by computers. I do not need to remind you that The Future is already here.”

My first HyperCard application was a statistics tutorial that I developed circa 1990 when teaching research methods at Hunter College.  That Hypercard tutorial evolved into a website and later a series of youtube videos.

Thanks for the memories!



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