HyperCard memories

by Simon St. Laurent

Related link: http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,54365,00.html

Wired News is running two stories, one on how HyperCard is still around, and another on Bill Atkinson's reflections about missing out on networked stacks. They've gotten me thinking about how I came to be a Web and then an XML developer.

When I bought an iMac this year, my first new Mac since the Quadra 840AV, I immediately bought a copy of HyperCard to go with it. It runs happily in Classic mode, and all my old stacks still run.

I first got into hypertext when I was frustrated by teaching Mac users to solve the same problems over and over, and decided to put my knowledge in one place. HyperCard let me do that, complete with interactive walkthroughs, and HyperTalk was the key to making it all work. It was simpler than the Applesoft BASIC I'd learned years before, and event-based interactivity was really cool.

A few years after that first project, I was living alone and working at Kinko's Copies. I'd run the copiers by day, and come home to HyperCard programming at night - or vice versa. The stacks I wrote then are still available. Trying to move from HyperCard to some other environment was tough, I found - hypertext was getting started, but all I could find were Xanadu's promises, HyTime's remarkable complexity (which put me off markup completely for a while), and the enormous challenge of writing my own projects from scratch.

Fortunately, the Web was getting started at just about that time, and a year later I dropped my other work to focus on the Web. I started converting my stacks to HTML, though there were plenty of character-escaping glitches to make life entertaining. After a few years in HTML, I shifted over to XML, where I've stayed ever since. I have to admit, though, that I've repeatedly considered rebuilding the work I did in HyperCard using XML, XLink, and Java, and that I'll probably get to it some day.

I'd love it if Apple open-sourced or even just freed HyperCard, but I'm not waiting. It was a fantastic place to start, though!

Anyone else have HyperCard nostalgia?


2002-08-16 13:31:43
HyperCard exemplifies the spirit of Apple
In many ways, HyperCard is what converted me from a novice computer user to a complete fanatic. The first time I wrote my own simple little stack and began cross-linking sections, I felt like my head was going to explode. It was so incredibly cool, but amazingly, it was easy enough for me to understand.

HyperCard gave me the self-confidence to really get into computing, and by the time HTML appeared before me in 1994, I was primed. I've since wandered far afield, into XML, PHP, C, Cocoa, and JavaScript, but HyperCard will always be special to me.