The Legend of HyperCard

By Deane Barker on January 23, 2012

Why HyperCard Had to Die: This is a well-written polemic that laments the death of HyperCard, around which there’s been a cult of fandom for decades.  In the middle of this post is a lo-o-o-ong set of screencaps that give you a nice introduction to just what HyperCard is (was), so if you’ve never heard of it, you can see what all the fuss is about.

If you already know what HyperCard is, keep scrolling to the bottom where the author explains his view on why HyperCard and Apple are no longer compatible.

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. […]

[Steve Jobs] returned the company to its original vision: the personal computer as a consumer appliance, a black box enforcing a very traditional relationship between the vendor and the purchaser.

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, like any train, and can travel elsewhere only after rivers of sweat pour forth from armies of laborers. (Preferably in Cupertino.)

Given the popularity of HyperCard, I’m surprised there isn’t some web-based emulator that hasn’t caught on and ignited the fervor of the HyperCard faithful.  This guy doesn’t think there’s anything, but if it was so successful as an installed Apple product, why couldn’t it work in the cloud?

(I’ve always thought that the best part of HyperCard was the acronym of the International HyperCard User Group, or iHug.  That group may be defunct too, as I couldn’t find a website for them.)

I found this via Reddit, and the comments are worth reading.  Here’s the top comment as of this writing:

Hypercard was the last vestige of Woz in Apple – of the hacker spirit that said development was just another neat thing anyone could do, like drawing and writing. Jobs excised the program because he had never agreed with that spirit. He wasn’t just dispossessed of it; he was its enemy from the start.

He wanted the original Apple computers to be glorified word processors. He went to his grave still viewing ‘his’ computers as appliances. He’s the reason iOS won’t run your ‘hello world’ app unless an unseen authority has rubber-stamped it for use by all ages. He’s the reason OS X won’t install on any computer lacking an Apple logo. His grand contribution to modern computing is that everything is clean and shiny so long as none of you primitive user-types touch anything.

Good riddance, you tightassed marketeer.

If that’s true, perhaps this explains why Woz loves Android so much.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. So much Steve Jobs hate, yet developers seem to prefer OSX these days. The reason of course is simple: the underlying Unix architecture is so much closer to the Linux servers which have become industry standard.

    I think Apple has set an appropriate level of abstraction to their OS so that those who want to hack can still easily do so–Terminal is a few clicks away. But that’s the key: get the programming stuff out of the way of normal users who don’t program. There’s nothing wrong with that philosophy. After all, nothing speaks louder than the free market, which quite clearly has chosen Apple over Microsoft.

    On topic: I used HyperCard in grade school, much like the author. And it’s quite easy for me to see why it was phased out–it was supplanted by web technologies. I’m sorry the author hates HTML and JS so much, but whatevz. If he really feels the need for HyperCard, he can go buy a Performa on eBay.

  2. the underlying Unix architecture is so much closer to the Linux servers which have become industry standard.

    Disagree.

    After all, nothing speaks louder than the free market, which quite clearly has chosen Apple over Microsoft.

    Disagree.

  3. All the negative emotions here about hypercard are based on a mistaken notion about hypercard and the people around it at one time or another…hypercard by function is simply hypertext with a design motif. I remember when it came out and how great it was, but it’s really just a version of hypertext and everyone has always loved that including Woz, Jobs, Gates, the whole world, because after all that’s exactly what linking is and that pervades all GUI-based interfaces going back to shortly after the invention of the mouse at the Xerox-Palo Alto Research Center.

    So please rethink your negativity about Woz versus Jobs and marketing-design versus open sourcing or how great hypercard was or is because it’s all still with us, unharmed, still free and widely used, and all still simply hypertext. In fact its one thing that no one has or has ever wanted to do anything to except promote it in all its various forms, from hypercard to simple links to points on a touchscreen–they’re all the same thing, the same function and all still depended on overwhelmingly by the entire PC, tablet and smart phone industry.

    In fact if you want to see actual hypercard stacks still being used and promoted, look at the icon and document desktop stacks available to everyone for use within Apple, Windows, Linux operating systems. Also banking ATM machines use hypercard stack designs quite a bit too.

    BTW: to characterize Wozniak with words like ‘Woz in Apple – of the hacker spirit that said development was just another neat thing anyone could do” is confusing hacking with coding development. Coding is constructive, hacking is hacking and anyone can do both.

  4. La vdared nunca he usado uno. Ni para Blogger, ni para MT, ni mucho menos para Pmachine. Pero creo que es hora de “modernizarse” o mejor dicho, “simplificar” las cosas un poco más.

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