Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

HyperCard, What Could Have Been

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the wild-cards dept.

Technology (Apple) 159

bobwrit sends us to Wired for a look back by the author of HyperCard, Bill Atkinson. Quoting: "HyperCard is a programming environment that can create applications as diverse as utilities and games by linking 'cards' arranged into 'stacks.' Commands are executed through a natural-language scripting language called HyperTalk... The software has been phenomenally successful and highly influential. But Atkinson feels that if only he'd realized separate cards and stacks could be linked on different people's machines through the Net — instead of cards and stacks on a particular machine — he would have created the first Internet browser."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Yeah yeah yeah (3, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535231)

Cudda shudda wudda.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (4, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535239)

Yep, instead he got beat by gopher.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (1, Offtopic)

obsolete1349 (969869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535265)

Wow Kdawson... should have known. Didn't check who posted it until after I saw the year of the article: 2002.

I hate this guy and I wish I could filter his "news" posts (revenue stream) out of my view for eternity.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (4, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535293)

I've been considering making a Firefox extension, or a greasemonkey script, to do just that. Although I wanted to filter attention whore articles, such as those about Jack Thompson, Uwe Boll, John Dvorak, or those submitted by Roland. Filtering kdawson would be good too. Unfortunately, I have no experience writing extensions or greasemonkey scripts for Firefox.

On the other hand, if we filtered all of the stories that we complain about on Slashdot, there would be nothing left. Then where would we waste our time?

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535475)

There are two scripts to filter out Roland (though I've only had one of them work)â"you could just modify it to also look for the name of the posting editor?

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535639)

Or just look at the name of the poster, I guess...

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (2, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535773)

Slashdot has for years allowed you to never see stories posted by any editor you wish. Its under your user preferences.

I think it was introduced because of John Katz -- at least, in that's why, in this post columbine, post September 11 world, I first figured that I needed to block a Slashdot editor.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535771)

> Then where would we waste our time?

You really want Slashdot to be... (0)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537371)

You really want Slashdot to be...

Jack Thompson, Uwe Boll, John Dvorak, or those submitted by Roland. Filtering kdawson would be good too.
...just one big white page ?

Re:You really want Slashdot to be... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537485)

don't worry we still have MSFT, linux, apple, KDE, Gnome, emacs, and VI to argue over.

As for this article i thought i had read it before. just the summary reminded me of the article from so long ago.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535313)

In your preferences, under "Authors", you can uncheck his name, and his stories should disappear for you.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536439)

"In your preferences, under "Authors", you can uncheck his name, and his stories should disappear for you."

Everybody knows that. The problem is that the moderation system rewards righteous bitching. It's the idiots with mod points that are keeping these memes alive. "Oh look, somebody's complaining about kdawson. I hate him, too. If I mod him up, instead of rewarding Slashdot with more page views, they'll stop posting kdawson's stories!"

Oh well, back to reading +5 posts about how kdawson sucks, Balmer throws chairs, and nobody wants a cell phone that does anything more than make and receive calls.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536737)

Well, the problem for me is that I still get kdawson posts in my slashboxes. Apparently the filtering system isn't applied to them... just the main page.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (1)

Scruffy Dan (1122291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537581)

It is your lucky [] day!

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535685)

Didn't check who posted it until after I saw the year of the article: 2002.

TFA is a retrospective on a multimedia programming language. Did you expect it to be of sufficiently general interest to appeal to all readers? The Subject line is abundantly clear. Maybe you could rub a couple of neurons together, read the Subject line, and give it a pass?

I wonder if the original article had been about Prolog or Forth, would it have received the same bonehead response?

Anyway, obligatory article discussion. When I got hired into a university support job back in 1995, I remember having almost the same discussion with my future boss. At the time, Hypercard was the overwhelmingly dominant development tool for simple academic and research applications. We ended the conversation with something like, "and it seems like this Mosaic thing is coming up fast, I wonder if Hypercard will survive that?"

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23536343)

Not only was it accepted by kdawson, it was submitted by bobwrit, who spams the comments of every article with plugs for his websites. It's a double-whammy of crapulence.

Hypercard is still unique (5, Informative)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535633)

There's still no one tool that replaces everything that HyperCard did. The genius of HyperCard was that it brought application development to the masses.

I was back in college in the early 90's, and taking a couple of language courses (not computer language). I would download stacks that would quiz me on my vocabulary. When I needed something more specific, in one evening I sat down and put together my own drill stack and, as a bonus, inserted the MacinTalk speech synthesizer to correctly pronounce the words.

HyperCard filled in the software gap for what you couldn't purchase off-the-shelf. When my PC friends used to point out how many thousands more titles were available for the PC, I used to point out that HyperCard filled the gap; if you couldn't find the HyperCard stack you were looking for on a Mac-friendly BBS (and there were tons of stacks out there), then it was a simple matter to author a stack.

Apple never understood HyperCard. At first they gave it away, and then they tried to sell it, which was a mistake. The beauty of it was that everyone had it on their Mac, and everyone eventually opened it up and said, "What the hell is this?" and started poking around with it. Once Apple/Claris shrinkwrapped it, you had to already be sold on the concept of what it was in order to purchase it.

HyperCard encapsulated a lot of pieces that are separate today. It could have been the first web browser because of the hypertext links that allowed you to move between pages within the stack. It was a great animation program, as a precursor to Flash. It was a database. It was the first introduction to scripting that most Mac users had, and professional developers could write extension modules for their stacks to push them further.

It's interesting that SuperCard, the competitor to HyperCard which gained popularity when HyperCard development languished, is still available for the Mac and still being developed. However, at $179, it's not exactly "for the masses".

Re:Hypercard is still unique (0)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535925)

The masses who could afford Apple Macs that is. Poor people like me used BASIC on things like the ZX Spectrum and Amiga.

Re:Hypercard is still unique (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536409)

you for got the C64...

Re:Hypercard is still unique (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23536683)

> The masses who could afford Apple Macs that is.

Yep, the masses who used Macs to earn money rarely had trouble affording them.

> Poor people like me used BASIC on things like the ZX Spectrum and Amiga.

Oh, you mean people who just like to dick around with computers, rather than use them to get work done?

Re:Hypercard is still unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537729)

The Hypercard was a great idea and had enormous market potential. Too bad they chose the wrong platform. If a PC version had been available, it would have . . . oh well, it's only money.

Re:Hypercard is still unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535999)

I'm not sure you're well informed on this. Revolution -- [] -- does everything HyperCard did and more, is cross-platform for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and starts at $49 for Revolution Media.

Re:Hypercard is still unique (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536665)

I don't think it's just the price he's referring to in terms of it being available to "the masses," but the fact that it came preinstalled on every mac, along with basic programming instructions. You could not only download stacks you wanted to use, but you could easily look at the code and see how they did what they did, and change it to your liking. Even at $49, who actually uses Revolution? And for what?

Re:Hypercard is still unique (1)

garutnivore (970623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536559)

There's still no one tool that replaces everything that HyperCard did. The genius of HyperCard was that it brought application development to the masses.

HyperCard did not bring application development to the masses by any means. I've programmed extensively in HyperCard back in the day when it was still relevant so I know what it offered.

Application development is much much more than having a cutesy IDE and a programming language which looks like English. I've provided software development services to people in the natural sciences and the humanities. People who understood how to design applications were able to design no matter what language they had to deal with. People who did not understand how to design applications, even if they had no problem understanding the language at hand, typically were not able to conceptualize software that required more than a few functions. Their problem was not primarily with the language but with designing the software they wanted. And I'm not talking about anything terribly sophisticated but even things like merging and sorting lists efficiently was baffling to them. Efficiently is the key word here because they could get something together which did what they wanted but it came at a serious cost in execution time. And that's the thing: it does not matter what language you use. If you can't figure out what algorithms you need, the language won't fill in the blanks for you.

Re:Hypercard is still unique (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23538219)

HyperCard did not bring application development to the masses by any means. I've programmed extensively in HyperCard back in the day when it was still relevant so I know what it offered.
I remember trying to whip up something in HyperCard on my Mac SE and quickly ran into the "can't do it, go write a C function" issue. Never managed anything more a simple "card" application.

Also at one point a Mac magazine had a feature on how to write a client-server form application in HyperCard and TBPH VisualBasic just put it to shame.

Re:Hypercard is still unique (2, Informative)

soapdog (773638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536835)

There's also Runtime Revolution which is cross plataform, has access to sql databases, advanced networking and imports hypercard stacks. The Revolution Media version is way cheaper that $179. You can develop your stacks and run them in Macs, Linux and Windows. For all those that loved HyperCard, I think that Runtime Revolution is what they've been waiting. The web site is []

Re:Hypercard is still unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23538375)

You would think that this could be a VB killer to include in Apple's productivity suite.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (4, Informative)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535661)

Although Apple abandoned HC a long time ago, it still lives on, today in a product called Revolution [] . Revolution is definitely a child or grandchild of HC. If you build applications in HC, you should have no trouble running with Rev. There's even a section on their website discussing that topic. It is definitely far from perfect, but it's better than FORTRAN.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (2, Insightful)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536715)

This is actually true. Hindsight is 20/20. Of course he could've made the first browser (or one of the first). A lot of other things could have been done, too, but they didn't because the foresight to see these kinds of things is hard to come by.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (5, Interesting)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537221)

This is a typical Leander Kahney / Wired article that hyper-sensationalizes a story nugget that, rather than just pointing out what really happened, suggests a arc of drama that really isn't even accurate.

While Apple execs didn't really get HyperCard (and hated the idea of giving it away, as Bill Atkinson's deal required), it did serve as the model for Viola, a project by Pei-Yuan Wei at UC Berkeley to clone HyperCard for X Window systems.

"I got a HyperCard manual and looked at it and just basically took the concepts and implemented them in [X Window for Unix]," Wei later explained. Wei intended to adapt Viola to use the Internet to distribute its hypermedia documents, but then happened upon the work already done by Berners-Lee on NeXT.

Adopting the HTTP architecture of Berners-Lee's www service resulted in the creation of the ViolaWWW web browser for X Window systems in 1992.

From there, NSCA's government funded (thanks, Al Gore) Mosaic browser, pattered after ViolaWWW, resulted in both Netscape and Spyglass/Internet Explorer.

Wired missed the real story of a stepping stone towards the user created web and instead created a dramatic soap opera about how Apple missed Sun's network genius because it had boxes with lines rather than lines with boxes. Never mind that Sun never managed to deliver either a web browser that mattered (HotJava?) or make any consumer contributions that caught on (client side Java?), just make a wild suggestion that makes no sense and allow your audience to come to a faulty conclusion that Apple should have been marketing the network, a product it wasn't selling, rather than the PC, a product it was. And on top, suggest that "owning" the browser market was or could be possible and/or profitable for anyone.

This reflects the typical tech pundit-mentality that everything should be owned by Microsoft-like companies, because it worked so well for Microsoft to monopolize the PC OS market. In reality, the utility software concepts (the core OS, web browser, codecs, protocols, etc) that pundits often think "somebody" should have owned are all better off either collectively owned in the form of open industry standards, or wide open in the form of free/public domain.

The world would not be better off if the web had developed around pioneering, but proprietary HyperCard software owned by Apple. Ideally, the web will continue to be based on open standards, and proprietary extension elements like Flash/Silverlight/ActiveX will all go away.

Safari on Windows? Apple and the Origins of the Web []

Stepping Stones to the Web (4, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537603)

The parent article is really good - I'm not modding it +1 Informative/Insightful/etc because I've got my own me-too story to add, but I'd appreciate if someone else does :-)

And of course there's always Xanadu....

Back in the late 1980s, when I was at Bell Labs (not Research), I was on a standards committee for Computer-Aided Logistics Support, trying to standardize computerized documentation formats. The primary directions the committee was working on were SGML for text and some vector graphics standard that I've forgotten for pictures.
SGML was a predecessor to XML, and was an abstract language describing document types that were typically like HTML with whatever markings and objects you needed to define, so we were essentially trying to define a DTD for our documentation.

There were people on the committee who got the "mark up the information content, let the reader's client format it" concept, where objects are things like "a 2nd-level paragraph", and people who didn't get it, and wanted to objects to be things like "a paragraph in 14-point bold-face" or "a page break" because they wanted to electronically represent the typical paper manuals and version control where you needed to replace pages to update the document, even though the manual might be an airplane-engine repair doc that some mechanic is trying to read on a wrist-mounted 24x80 screen while poking around in the engine. You may find this familiar, given the number of people over the past decade who've been trying to make web pages look exactly the way they want even when the user's browser or screen size may not be identical to theirs.

At one point my boss (who was a PhD type, not a Dilbert boss) asked if we needed to be concerned that our presence on the committee might tell competitors the kinds of things we were working on.
My reply was that "Well SGML is an obvious thing to write Hypertext in, so this is the kind of Research they'd expect us to be doing." Sigh - my mental model of hypertext was pretty much Hypercard and similar document packages, and I didn't get the linking-together-multiple-authors bit either :-)

Re:Stepping Stones to the Web (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23538293)

And of course there's always Xanadu....

Another example would be Lotus Notes, which was/is sort of a network-based HyperCardish thing. It probably did not have a lot of direct influence on the academic thinking, but it was widely deployed because it was the only thing corporations had for informal databasing.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23538239)

I think you and the author of the article are putting the cart before the horse. BSD Unix and Sun Microsystems (which was co-founded by Bill Joy, the lead developer of BSD) were absolutely crucial in bringing TCP/IP and the Internet to the masses. The web browser was the biggest "killer app" to emerge from this environment, but the notion of hypertext as such wasn't particularly unusual; it was the focus on the network (and BSD sockets) that made the difference, and that's something that Sun knew far better and far earlier than most. (As an aside, it's sad to see the company's continued slide into what looks like oblivion, but Sun's management focused all of their efforts on trying to compete with Microsoft, and completely failed to understand the more immediate GNU/Linux threat until it was too late.)

As for standards, it's well known in industrial economics that allowing private ownership (ie intellectual property) tends to lead to more innovation, whereas once the innovation has been done, it's optimal to make the results publicly available. IP laws try to strike the best balance, and the explosion of commercialised research from US universities that started in the 1980s had a lot to do with the fact that changes in US law at the time (the Bayh-Dole Act) allowed universities, non-profit institutions and small businesses to patent the results of state-funded research. Prior to this, all such results were owned by the state (representing the public), and were typically never commercialised: the only licences available were non-exclusive, so if one firm licensed a patent, all of its competitors could do the same, so it wouldn't gain any competitive advantage.

The fact that BSD was made publicly available (especially the networking code) was a tremendous boon to the industry, but it took a long time for non-commercial derivatives (eg the free BSDs or GNU/Linux) to reach the masses. In the mean time, commercial derivatives like SunOS, which developed much more rapidly because of commercial incentives, were absolutely crucial. The simplistic view that 'standards' and 'common ownership' will necessarily lead to optimal outcomes simply can't be take seriously by anyone who understands the trade-offs of intellectual property regimes in industrial economics. Such a view is at odds with both economic theory and the empirical evidence.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23538305)

Sorry, the parent post is actually a reply to its grandparent.

Re:Yeah yeah yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537841)

"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts..." er, how does the rest of that go?

A Note to Moderators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23538493)

This worthless comment has 32 thread-hijacking replies because the moderators aren't doing their job.

When someone tries to sneak in a quick one-liner as the first post (as is the case with most stories) it's not "Funny", it's LAME. Please moderate it as such.

Finally, the answer. (2, Insightful)

unixcrab (1080985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535303)

"I grew up in a box-centric culture at Apple". Say no more...

My first experience with programming (4, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535315)

Okay, so calling HyperStudio "programming" is a stretch, but it was definitely a gateway drug for it.

Playing Doom on my uncle's computer may have got me interested in computers, but using HyperStudio in elementary school was my first experience with programming and is probably what started me down that path.

Re:My first experience with programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535601)

using HyperStudio in elementary school was my first experience with programming and is probably what started me down that path.
Me too, and it's been a lucrative one. But let's be honest, the intersection of browser-like functionality and HC was very close to zero. HC made one terrible reader.


Douglas Adams was a fan (4, Informative)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535725)

He wrote an application to measure the volume of a Megapodes nest using it.

I found the source on the web a few years back, it's probably around for those of you who want to have a play.

Re:My first experience with programming (1)

david.emery (127135) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535781)

Okay, so calling HyperStudio "programming" is a stretch, but it was definitely a gateway drug for it.

I remember building some fairly complex things in Hypercard, and I'd certainly call Hypertalk a rich and also fascinating programming language. When we were looking at SOA orchestration approaches, I used Hypertalk as an alternative to the current set of XML-based, damned-impossible-to-read set of popular orchestration languages.

Hypertalk is 'object oriented' in a way that I haven't seen in main-line languages, and that in some respects (IMHO) reflects the poor state of language design as much as anything else.

Of course Hypertalk begat AppleScript, and although I find Applescript frustrating at times, it's worth the effort.

It is interesting to contemplate a merger of Python and Hypertalk/AppleScript...


Re:My first experience with programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23536049)

My first experience with programming was with "GW-BASIC". Then, around the time I was first expose to C++, I was also exposed to Macs for the first time. I must've been about 12 at the time. I was frequently pulled out of school to fix the computers in the neighboring school, which were all Macs. I was familiar with PCs and I found troubleshooting Macs to be a very annoying experience. My mother, who was a teacher, brought one home when school got out and I spent that summer learning HyperStudio.

The summary of my experience with hyperstudio (and a few other apps that regularly crashed with an error of type -1) is that I hate Macs, and I don't see why anyone would use that pathetic excuse of a programming language known as HyperStudio. Yeah it's graphically-oriented and you can design things quickly on it, but you can't actually accomplish anything worthwhile with it!

It was so phenomenally successful that.... (3, Informative)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535321)

.... he missed the mark.

This is not even a hindsight article as the hindsight is still based on speculation.

Of course as things at Apple have evolved in this vain, We have Automator [] and its phenomenally (cough) successful.....

Of course Hypercard and Automator are platform specific (mac only) but as a comparison to platform agnostic and network-able relatively easy scripting, there is REBOL [] and specifically REBOL VIEW (if you want to discuss web browsers). But how successful has REBOL become?

What Automator generates under the hood in teh way of files, when a person creates an automation, is incredibly massive. Especially in comparison to the incredibility small scripts of REBOL.

I'm not promoting either here, just presenting a comparison that is relevant to the speculated hindsight of the WIRED article.

Re:It was so phenomenally successful that.... (1)

wootest (694923) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535869)

Automator is nothing like Hypercard except for the part where it does something somehow related to scripting. (And I'll be damned if I'll compare anything related to scripting to Hypercard.)

You could build databases and small Flash-like games with Hypercard (inevitably someone will point out how an early version of Myst, maybe the demo, was written in Hypercard, so it might as well be me). You can build workflows - scripting pipelines - with Automator, and in specific cases you can do it much easier and better than in Hypercard since it's aimed precisely for that.

So no, Automator really is nothing like Hypercard. Hypercard's very little like anything except perhaps for Flash and Visual Basic. (If this was what you were saying or trying to get at, it wasn't readily apparent.)

Re:It was so phenomenally successful that.... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536457)

I've never yet found a single solitary use for Automator, but back in the 90s I used to build Hypercards that did all sorts of things, mainly automated text processing taxing quark documents and turning them into rudimentary HTML. It was soooo easy.

The WWW requires a single world wide network (1, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535329)

No such thing existed at that time. In 1985, the networks were fragmented into dozens of incompatible protocols, the environment which could have made Hypercard into the first web browser simply didn't exist and therefore there was no opportunity to make it into such.

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (4, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535403)

Not if he restricted it down to all Apple machines. They could and did interconnect with local-talk.

Who says you HAVE to be mulitplatform to be useful?

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (2, Informative)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535775)

Connecting stacks through dial-up modems was probably the logical development path, and I think there was a commercial extension for HyperCard that negotiated a modem connection. However, it only sent text across the modem connection (rather than an entire stack). And, of course, modem speeds were a limiting factor because the stacks tended to bloat rather quickly once you started adding images to it. Web pages only had to load one at a time, whereas a HyperCard application might require the whole stack to load at once. Even LocalTalk would have choked, since LocalTalk's speed is equivalent to a 28.8k modem.

IIRC, there was a HyperCard-based BBS server available, but since it was only serving up text and file downloads, it wasn't truly delivering the HyperCard experience.

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (2, Interesting)

Typoboy (61087) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536407)

You refer to Harry Chesley's HyperBBS [] which I used to run as my first BBS, before switching to Coherent [] .

HyperBBS would 'read' every page of a stack to the modem-connected user, buttons would be menu items, editable fields would be inputs, and locked fields would simply be read.

Choosing a menu item would take you to another page..

The modem user didn't see it, but the home menu (IIRC) looked like a house, the cards for logging in were embellished for the benefit of no-one but the sysop.

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537085)

Yeah, but remember how slow localtalk was?

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (3, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535659)

No such thing existed at that time. In 1985, the networks were fragmented into dozens of incompatible protocols, the environment which could have made Hypercard into the first web browser simply didn't exist and therefore there was no opportunity to make it into such.
Since you mention incompatible protocols, there's another related issue. Unlike the WWW, HyperCard was proprietary, and the hypothetical NetHyperCard would likely would have remained so to some extent.

Its open nature was (as far as I am aware) a major benefit of the WWW, and probably helped it take off pretty quickly. Thus, it's *not* a foregone conclusion that a proprietary NetHyperCard with very similar capabilities would have taken off in the same way.

In fact, it's quite probable that had NetHyperCard existed and been released in the mid-to-late 80s, it would have been been Mac only and tied specifically to AppleTalk networks [] (rather than TCP/IP). This is already partly implied by what you say above; but I also think that NetHyperCard would have *remained* proprietary and Apple-centric- and hence a niche product- until (or *if*) a clearly successful open product persuaded Apple to change their mind. Which likely would have been the WWW anyway!

But by the time it was visibly successful enough to force Apple's hand, the WWW would likely be the established standard. My guess is that- allowing time for the company to action it- Apple would have released a pseudo-open, multi-platform, TCP/IP-friendly version of NetHyperCard circa 1997-99. And since everyone would already be using the WWW, NetHyperCard would still be ignored.

To cut this long story short, even if it had been invented long before the WWW, I still think it's unlikely that we'd be using NetHyperCard instead of the WWW today.

Of course, had NetHyperCard been invented before the WWW, it's quite possible that Apple could have taken legal action against it in some form; but even if successful, I think that this would be more likely to stifle things overall than make NetHyperCard a success on the scale of the web. In that sense, I'm glad that it never came to fruition.

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (1)

osgeek (239988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535949)

Yep. I hate to knock Atkinson since he did such phenomenal work - but a net-savvy Hypercard still would have been missing the important revolutions of open software and open protocols.

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536017)

What it would have taken for HyperCard to compete with the Mosaic browser would have been nothing short of a tear-down/rebuild of HyperCard from scratch. Interlinking stacks would have been difficult (how do you link to a single page in someone else's stack?), plus the issue of bandwidth (downloading whole stacks vs. downloading single pages) for dial-up users. The demands of HyperCard as an internet application would seem to have been radically different from the animal that is was.

It's fun to think about, but unless Bill Atkinson was a total visionary about the internet, I don't see how Apple could have possibly positioned HyperCard to compete with the web.

Re:The WWW requires a single world wide network (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536429)

funny thing is that tcp/ip is a "virtual" network that can be stacked on top of any number of real networks (ethernet, token ring, you name it).

internet isnt really a single large network, its a network of networks, all of whom can carry tcp/ip.

Darnit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535339)

if I'd only used those 5 cards to make a net-based hypercard browser instead of going for the royal flush.

GoodNeWS / HyperNeWS / HyperLook (4, Informative)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535343)

In 1989, Arthur van Hoff [] developed a HyperCard-inspired system called GoodNeWS [] , written in PostScript, for James Gosling's NeWS window system. Arthur later went on to work at Sun on Java, wrote the Java compiler in Java, the AWT gui toolkit, and the HotJava web browser.

GoodNeWS was later renamed HyperNeWS, then later HyperLook [] . I went to Glasgow to work with Arthur at the Turing Institute, to develop HyperLook into a product, and I used it to develop the first Unix version of SimCity [] .

HyperLook was really wonderful, because it combined the strengths of HyperCard with the superior graphics and programmability of PostScript, and the network communication model currently known as AJAX.

I've written down some Ideas for Sugar development environment from HyperLook SimCity [] , with lots of links and illustrations, relating it with many different programming languages, user interface systems and applications that have inspired me.

Here is just the stuff about HyperLook -- the article goes on further to discuss and compare other technologies I think are interesting and applicable to the OLPC's constructionist education project.

Ideas for Sugar development environment from HyperLook SimCity

I love the ideas behind Smalltalk, EToys and HyperCard, and would like to combine them with ideas from visual programming languages like Robot Odyssey, KidSim, Klik-and-Play, SimAntics, Body Electric/Bounce, Max/MSP/Jitter, etc.

Here are some ideas about HyperLook and other systems, that could be applied to Sugar:

HyperLook was a PostScript-based user interface development environment for the NeWS window system, which Arthur van Hoff created at the Turing Institute in Glasgow. []

I helped develop HyperLook into a commercial product, with a editable user interface development environment, as well as a redistributable non-editable runtime, and I used it to port SimCity to Unix, and develop other components and applications . [] []

HyperLook was inspired by HyperCard, but it additionally provided a client/server programming model, and more powerful graphics and scripting based on NeWS's object oriented dialect of PostScript. []

The NeWS window system was like AJAX, but with:
1) PostScript code instead of JavaScript code
2) PostScript graphics instead of DHTML graphics, and
3) PostScript data instead of XML data.

It had a unified programming/graphics/data/networking model based on NeWS's extended multi-threaded object-oriented dialect of PostScript, instead of a hodge-podge of accidental technologies. (Although I will be the first to admit the X11/NeWS merge was quite a hodge-podge and huge-kludge!) NeWS had an object system based on the simple dynamic ideas of Smalltalk, implemented with the PostScript dictionary stack, supporting multiple inheritance and runtime modification of objects and classes. []

HyperLook was a gui development framework and desktop environment, that extended NeWS with a user-editable structured PostScript graphics format, a persistence system, a HyperCard-like delegation model using a network based client/server library, that passed messages from button to page to background to stack, and finally over the network to the application (and back), and an entire user interface toolkit, window manager, gui editor, clipboard and other desktop tools and services, all designed around the PostScript graphics format and message passing system. [] [] [] []

Users could create their own integrated applications, task oriented interfaces, presentations and journals, by cutting and pasting high level components and graphics together, configuring them with property sheets and graphical editors, scripting them with PostScript message handlers, sending and receiving messages between other stacks and applications, and customizing applications to suit their needs. []

It provided a user-editable window manager, that allowed you to draw and shape the window frame with arbitrary PostScript graphics, cut and paste you own resize corners, close boxes, menus, buttons, pie menus and other controls, as well as combining and scripting together multiple application components and custom graphics. Because everything was based on PostScript, you could print any window to a PostScript printer or copy it to the clipboard, and iconified windows were just live miniaturized views. []

Developers could create back-end services (like audio mixing) and applications (like SimCity) that could send messages back and forth, use shared memory for efficient bitmap animation, and share services like audio mixing with other applications. [] []

I developed SimCity in parallel with HyperLook, so there was a powerful synergy, SimCity drove the development of many of HyperLook's features, and the other way around. SimCity extended HyperLook with client/server based components like the city editor, map view, graph display, which could be copied and pasted and placed anywhere in the interface. It was great to have a demanding application like SimCity as an acid test, to shake out bugs and limitations of the platform, and prove the abilities of general purpose components like bitmap animation and audio mixing. [] []

HyperLook was a commercial product, with a WYSIWYG interface development environment for developers, and a freely redistributable non-editable runtime. We released it at the same time as SimCity (using SimCity as bait to entice people to try out the included HyperLook runtime). [] []

The user interface development environment could be stripped out of the system to create a non-editable binary-encoded runtime version for shipping turn-key commercial products, which I delivered with SimCity. But if you had the development version, you could create your own stacks, put the interface into edit mode, cut and paste user interface components around, and edit their scripts (enabling user interface vandalism). Personally, I think all users should have a user-editable development environment, but it's important to be able to lock it down and constrain it, so casual user's can't accidentally break the system, or get confused with unnecessary details. []

HyperLook included a "warehouse" of pre-configured object templates, which you could cut and paste into your own stacks, and configure and script to create your own HyperLook applications, custom interfaces, interactive presentations, etc. [] []

Like HyperCard, you could copy and paste components around (including per-object customizations like scripts, properties and graphics) to construct and edit your own interfaces. Like HyperCard, you could open up a property sheet or script editor on any object. Unlike HyperCard, the scripts were written in object oriented PostScript. (Arthur van Hoff also wrote PdB, an object oriented C to PostScript compiler, and later went on to write the first Java compiler in Java at Sun!) Unlike HyperCard, the property sheets were implemented as HyperLook stacks themselves, which made it easy to develop new components or customize property sheets for existing components (i.e. simplified for kids, graphically oriented for designers, advanced for developers), and the user interface editor itself was even a plug-in component that could be removed or replaced (to make a non-editable runtime, or to plug in simpler or more advanced gui editors).

HyperLook was able to implement its own property sheets as stacks, because it had a sufficiently rich set of built-in components including text and graphics editors, and stacks could be scripted to import and export properties to control settings (to convert between data types and control values, implement apply/cancel, change detection, and selecting previously edited objects).

HyperLook included a nice little PostScript graphics editor component that you could integrate into your own applications and property sheets. For example, there is a user-customizable clock that lets you edit its face and hands (by incorporating three graphics editors in its property sheet), and there are some example clocks, pre-configured in the warehouse. You can copy them into your own stacks, place and stretch them (since they're scalable PostScript graphics), modify their appearance with the clock editor property sheet, and paste your original creations back into the warehouse to use again: [] []

Here's a cellular automata laboratory that uses the shared memory raster animation library to integrate a Toffoli/Margolis CAM-6 simulator I wrote in C with the PostScript graphics editor (so you can cut and paste PostScript graphics into live running cellular automata, and copy the cells into the graphics editor, and generate garish but seamlessly tiled screen backgrounds, and place a live bubbling cellular automata view component clipped into a lava-lamp shaped window!): []

The nice thing about having a standard PostScript based structured graphics format, is that the entire system supports it, so you are free to do fun stuff like making a clock face out of a cellular automata or SimCity map, copying an entire window including its user interface components as structured graphics, clipping and stretching it in in the graphics editor, and using it as a clock hand, or whatever else you can think of.

Here's a transcript and video demo of HyperLook SimCity, cellular automata, user interface and graphics editing, and cutting and pasting graphics between various HyperLook applications. [] []

It is extremely important that the base system includes a standard user-editable structured graphics format (higher level that raw PostScript, but including Encapsulated PostScript or modern equivalents like PDF, SVG, PNG, etc). It's also essential to have a reusable structured graphics editor component, and also that all of the property sheets and applications take full advantage of it, so you can edit every visual aspect of the user interface, and copy any graphics to the clipboard with their structure intact.

HyperLook's graphics editor (HyperDraw) was not too fancy, but it was really easy to use for the stuff you want to do 90% of the time. A bitmap image editor would have been really nice too, but that was hard to build into the NeWS server without a C client, unfortunately, so we never got around to that (although the CAM stack has some simple drawing tools for playing with the live cellular automata pixels through shared memory). Something like Photoshop or GIMP would be too complicated and monolithic, unless it could be stripped down and re-packaged as an light-weight, easy-to-use, plug-in component.

[More at Ideas for Sugar development environment from HyperLook SimCity [] ]


Re:GoodNeWS / HyperNeWS / HyperLook (0)

bogie (31020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537861)

Man, longest post that wasn't spam?

HyperCard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535363)

HyperCard was always one of those languages people talked about that sounded made-up to me.

Re:HyperCard? (2, Insightful)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535433)

Sorry to break this to you, but ALL computer programming languages are "made up". First you make up a language, then you implement it, then you use it. It's not like they just dig programming languages out of the ground like coal.


Re:HyperCard? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535583)

Sorry to break this to you, but ALL computer programming languages are "made up". First you make up a language, then you implement it, then you use it. It's not like they just dig programming languages out of the ground like coal.

And to think I thought they grew on trees - sigh.

Re:HyperCard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23536865)

I work in the ObjC mines, and it's amazing what we dig up there.

Re:HyperCard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23536243)

ALL computer programming languages are "made up".

Except for Lisp. Lisp is the one true language that is really natural and the logical tool for most any situation.

Just ask any Lisp programmer. But choose a time when you have a couple hours to kill...

Re:HyperCard? (5, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536321)

Bah! You are forgetting LISP, which was not made up, but discovered! Like fractals or the Pythagorean theorem, an artifact of math, no more man's creation than the integers! LISP, the language from which the gods surely wrought the universe! []

... actually, I too mostly hack things together with Perl.

Re:HyperCard? (2, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536503)

HyperCard was always one of those languages people talked about that sounded made-up to me.

Sorry to break this to you, but ALL computer programming languages are "made up". First you make up a language, then you implement it, then you use it. It's not like they just dig programming languages out of the ground like coal.
Wow... I like how the poster I'm quoting and everybody who modded this up completely missed the original point of the GP post. What he meant by "sounded made-up to me" was "I never actually saw this thing anywhere".

This is, arguably, one of the most idiotic posts I've ever seen modded up to +5. I can't believe you actually thought he meant that he believed that most programming languages have been refined through millions of years of evolution. I can't believe at least 3 dudes with mod-points came by and completely missed that, too. Wow. Just... wow. Basic reading comprehension FAIL.

Re:HyperCard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537223)

I can't believe you actually thought he meant that he believed that most programming languages have been refined through millions of years of evolution. I can't believe at least 3 dudes with mod-points came by and completely missed that, too. Wow.

Yeah, I was pretty disappointed that Mike Huckabee says he believes that. Can't remember who the other two dudes were.

Re:HyperCard? (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537267)

It's not like they just dig programming languages out of the ground
Well, here I am stuck using Perl, and I feel it's definitely dug up. From the grave.


Re:HyperCard? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535599)

you where on MS at the time.
Anything with a working gui sounded made-up.

Re:HyperCard? (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535827)

hypercard isn't a language. HyperTalk is a language. HyperCard was a combination of runtime environment and IDE (like Flash or GUI Designers) witha graphic editor thrown in.

Internet browser? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535427)

What's an "Internet browser"?

He could have invented a "web browser" easily enough without an "internet" - just having a few computers would have worked just fine.

xcmds (5, Informative)

mondotom (703921) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535431)

hypercard did connect to networks by way of developer written "xcmds". There were usenet, gopher, rpc, ftp, telnet, wais xcmds. There was a project called "spider" from ATG that did link hypercard across a network. However, the ecosystem of network computers was so small in the mid 80's it did not flourish.

Hypercard was *amazing* (4, Interesting)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535459)

It was so easy to use and the program language was incredibly flexible and you could write almost english like statements with it.

I did some amazing stuff with Hypercard when I was in high school. I created several games, though I didn't have the net then and was unable to release them. One of the games was a full blown RPG game (icon like, think early Ultima games) where you moved using arrow keys. I even implemented fake windows using fields so you could select spells and the like. Monsters could cast back at you as well and there were flying fireballs/iceballs that were animated using hypercard script. Another neat innovation was making the card bigger than the screen size (I was a on a Mac Plus at the time). When you neared the edge of the screen it would scroll the viewport with you. There were other neat things like you could walk behind treasure chests and columns if your guy's middle point was above their middle point, or in front if he was below their middle point on the screen. It could also save games out to disk separate from the card and load them in to continue. I wasn't able to finish it, but it was working extraordinarily well. Unfortunatly, my old Conner 80MB drive got corrupted and I lost everything. Months of work blown away thanks to the fragility of System 7.

So that project ruined, I went into making a multiuser home stack since I found the home stack with it kinda of useless and boring. I implemented the ability to have hypercard users and each would have to log in and then would be set permissions to use stacks (scripting, authoring, etc). It also had email that would tell you when someone read your message and later I was able to exent that to network email and even instant messaging when I got a copy of an XCMD that let me send data over the Appletalk network. This was before things like email and instant messaging were available to anyone but college people and researches who had access to this thing called the "Internet". The main screen after logging in had your email, make important notes (Quick notes I called it) and also a "Quick Connect" section that let you launch favorite applications and stacks from the control panel. Lastly, there was an administration application that would let you manage users rights as well as reset passwords and lock or unlock accounts. You could even run reports on their log ins and activity. I still have an earlier copy of the system, before I had networked email and I think I still have the IM test stack I made as well.

The rest of my stuff, including an attempt to recreate the old RPG was lost when I entrusted them, including my copy of the Hypercard application to a Zip drive. Click of death brought back the pain of the original losses and now I have no more copy of Hypercard and I cannot find a replacement or my original disks. Then college came and I was pulled into C programming and what not. But I never forgot Hypercard and many times while working in C, I would lament about how easy the task was to do in Hypercard, and what a grind C made it into.

What I do have, I am tempted to email my stuff to Atkinson, if he still has a public email, to show him what a 14 year old kid was able to do with this thing. Mainly the early version of my multiuser stack, the admin too, and if I still have it, the IM app. I did make one more thing, but it's probably better I never give it to anyone... I made a hypercard virus stack. Not a C virus, it's written in hyperscript and basically it tries to find your other stacks and infect them with itself rendering them useless. I never released it and it was made just to see if it was possible. So yes, Hypercard was extremely powerful and really, I wish it had become the web because it is so freaking easy to use, even compared to web tech we have today.

Re:Hypercard was *amazing* (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535501)

I'll note that HyperCard GS, the IIGS port of HyperCard, DID have such a multiuser function. I guess schools must have demanded it...

Re:Hypercard was *amazing* (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536195)

Awesome history there. It's sad to see that all your work was lost - I know that feeling.

Hypercard was indeed an amazing product, but I will never understand why certain decisions were made. For example, why did Atkinson choose to have hypercard objects violate Apple's own user interface guidelines? Why wasn't color ever considered? (Well, it was eventually, but the solution seemed like a clumsy afterthought).

I think even today something like Hypercard (included as part of an OS) would be very useful, with some major updates, of course, to take advantage of more recent technology. If nothing else, it could provide a world of experimentation and enjoyment for young people.

using HyperCard to grow weed (3, Interesting)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536977)

That virus sounds interesting; I remember there were a couple of viruses out there for HyperCard; I remember dissecting one of the disinfectant programs and realizing that it worked by trapping the "set" command which (as I recall) was used to infect other stacks or change the info in them. For someone who knew little about computers it was amazing to be able to figure out what an application was doing and how, and even make your own. I made an application to help with writing papers that could store little bits of information (mostly quotations) along with bibliographic citations to use by copying and pasting into a word processor. (I probably should have been just writing the papers at the time but writing the program was way cooler).

One of the coolest apps I remember reading about was from an article in High Times about a guy who was growing weed remotely; he had his garden monitored by X-10 cameras all connected to a Mac plus. He'd dial into his mac from anywhere and connect to a HyperCard stack; from the stack he could see whichever camera angle he wanted and control when the water and/or lights would turn on. He could tell if a light had burned out or whatever, and there was some kind of motion detector that would tell the stack to call his cell if someone entered the facility. All in all, it was pretty clever app illustrating some of HyperCard's possibilities; I can only imagine what could have been done with HyperCard and the Web.

Re:using HyperCard to grow weed (1)

g-san (93038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537523)

I'm calling bullocks. I doubt a Mac Plus has a port you could connect an X-10 camera to, much more than one since the modem would be on the "Modem" serial port. And there were no cell phones in Hypercard/Mac Plus days. Or maybe you are an avid High Times reader complete with the avid High Times reader short term memory loss and you just forgot some details.

Maybe a QuickCam, that eyeball shaped thing that connected to pre USB Macs. And maybe a call to a pager, but I don't know how he would get so much control into the Mac Plus, the thing just didn't have that many I/O options. And if this guy was able to get all this working, he would probably be smart enough to realize that the risk/reward of growing weed vs. using all his hacking skillz was clearly in favor of the option that doesn't land you in jail.

Re:using HyperCard to grow weed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537615)

It's "bollocks".

HyperCard was supposed to crush the ruling class (2, Interesting)

Everyman (197621) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535529)

Strangely enough, HyperCard didn't crush the corporations like Kevin Kelly promised it would:

"HyperCard is uniquely suited for activist causes. It goes without saying that its great ease of use and flexibility favors the underdog. Activist groups have often relied on people power and maneuverability to counteract the brute economic and political force of various Powers-That-Be; HyperCard can enhance both of these advantages."

This quotation is from page 164 of "Signal: Communication Tools for the Information Age," Kevin Kelly, editor. Foreward by Stewart Brand. A Whole Earth Catalog. Point Foundation, 1988.

HyperCard Smut Stack (4, Interesting)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535561)

Anybody old and perverted enough to remember the infamous "HyperCard Smut Stack"?

I still associate nipples with the "ping" sound.

Years ago I was recounting how cool HyperCard was to a group of people at some dot-com trade show, and when I mentioned the HyperCard Smut Stack, one guy (Chuck Farnham) said "oh, I wrote that". My jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out, not only because I happened to run into the author after all those years, but also because he would actually admit to it!

But as it turns out, Chuck has no shame. He used to do bizarre live stunts on Live 105, a San Francisco Bay Area radio station, on the shock jock Alex Bennett Show [] . He's infamous for some of his other exploits (this is just the tip of the iceberg, most of the other stuff is really not safe for work, let alone live radio):

During his days at Live 105 Alex would have stuntman Chuck Farnham cover himself with food to feed the homeless. This allowed Alex to get around the San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan's ban on feeding the homeless without a permit.


Re:HyperCard Smut Stack (1)

throatmonster (147275) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535667)

Oh yes, I remember Smut Stack! To this day, I still use the term "Lusty Lube".

Hypercard was the bomb. (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535589)

Free with every machine. Easy to get into, you could pretty much write pseudocode and tweak the proper bits and you had an actual program.

Yes, it was runtime, no, it wasn't pascal, and no it wasn't app-able.

And as a bone to throw hereabouts, it was open-source-ish. You could set the userlevel to prevent damage and reset it to inspect the source. And you could password all that too, but it was share-able by default.

But you were certainly programming a computer to do something you needed done and wasn't on the shelf.

IMHO (AIDTIAOTO) it was immensely useful and way ahead of its time.

Just ask Robyn and Rand Miller.

A proprietary closed format - no wonder it loses.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23535595)

The Hypercard format was closed and Apple proprietary. I believe Bill Atkinson had intended it to be open, but Apple chose otherwise.

A single platform closed standard was never going to compete with the open, cross-platform network-enabled gopher and then HTTP protocols already spreading across the internet.

If it were otherwise, then Lotus Notes would also have taken over the world...

I remember (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535649)

It gave rise to millions of useless Hypercard stacks, similar to the millions of useless video clips that fill youtube.

Most remembered Hypercard items were the Serial Port tool kit and the Lisp extensions.

Re:I remember (1)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535735)

ah yes, but the morons that created those useless hypercard stacks are now looking back at how they began their carrer, and (at least me) wishing perhaps they hadn't just fucked around with hypercard and actually tried to learn more about it. Maybe I would have been a web programmer in '95 (as a kid genius) instead of '05 (so I would have actually made some money at it).

So what will this new generation look back on and wish they had done more with? Maybe not youtube, but myspace and facebook provide quite a bit of customization and "coding" for the lay person/n00b (CSS, widgets and whatnot).

they could move with the times (1)

newsdee (629448) | more than 6 years ago | (#23535653)

Except for the english-like language, most of HyperCard's features can be simulated on the web using Flash. You just need to adapt the paradigm a bit... e.g. a card in a stack is instead a frame on a (stopped) animation.

I've remade some of my early crappy games [] in Flash and released them online [] . With a bit of a framework (i.e. button components, dialog boxes) you can recapture the same feel and fun while creating stuff. I've chosen to use B&W graphics, but you don't need to be constrained by've got mp3 sound, video, truecolor, etc.

The ultimate step would be for somebody to do an Hypertalk interpreter, so you could use it in a very similar manner as the original. But I suppose Apple's trademarks will prevent that from happening... :-(

I've never been a programmer, but for HyperCard (3, Interesting)

jht (5006) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536105)

My tech skills have never (and I mean never) been inclined towards programming. It was always by far my weakest point. Anything more than a simple shell script has always been beyond me (despite that, I've managed to have a decent career in IT because there are a lot of things other than programming I can do well, fortunately).

Then HyperCard came out. It is still the only programming environment that I understood immediately. Within a few months, I'd produced several applications of varying usefulness (a guitar tuner, a lotto application that automatically tailored to each state's game, and a train layout app) that I happily posted around for downloading and even got a few dollars for. I re-wrote my resume as a stack, and sent it around on a floppy when I was jobhunting (This was before the Mac ghetto era of the early '90s). I could do things with HyperCard that I never was able to master with conventional languages.

Basically, in my eyes, HyperCard was the best chance ever at a programming environment for average people. It had plenty of flaws, and never even properly made the transition to PPC (let alone today's era), but it was an amazing tool - especially for the era. I do still miss it now.

Hypercard (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536205)

Hypercard was something of a rip-off of ZoomRacks [] , a good idea that suffered from coming out on Atari hardware in the 1980s.

Hypercard itself was kind of a neat idea, but its programming language, Hypertalk, was all too much like COBOL. It also had a terrible approach to data access, with forms like FIELD 6 OF CARD 372. If the thing had a relational database model underneath, it could have been very more broadly useful, rather than merely cute.

Re:Hypercard (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23538335)

That would have come from a dull-witted programmer.

How about "field color of card description" . . .

I used hypercard as a front end to prepare merge files for Word in the early 90's. It could preprocess and adjust to my arbitrarily introducing new fields (I'd dump the file dnames, and then the contnets, and wouldn't have to adjust my word file.

I could produce nearly complete bankruptcies and divorces quickly. At the time, competition had driven the price for summary divorces (agreed terms) to about $100 plus the filing fee. This was killing many attorneys, as they took over an hour of secretary time to prepare papers for an attorney to review. For me, papers were kicking out the printer ten minutes after the person sat down. Review was trivial, as I'd written the thing and knew exactly what would happen.

The ability to print out papers on the spot also proved the cash for my honeymoon :)


My first commercial Hypercard app was a disaster (4, Informative)

grikdog (697841) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536211)

Hypercard was slower than cold, frozen, Arctic molasses. We could demonstrate a peppy-seeming way to accomplish some serious text collecting, but by the time our client had entered so much data that re-entering it would be prohibitive under deadline constraints, the Fatal Flaw in this stupid equation had emerged: Getting data back OUT in a useful format, even merely the useful task of editing it, was hair-pullingly, exasperatingly, blue air and cusswords SLOW. Hypercard was, in short, a hot app, especially for our unfortunate sales team. The next year we completely rewrote our "prototype" Hypercard stack from scratch as a plain, ordinary Macintosh C program, discovering event loops and everything, and recovered some good will from Sales, but many of those first-year clients had been burned so badly they never came back, and since the community of users tended to talk to each other, we had about two years to get our new programming right before it had to to matter again; to this day, I still regard Caroline Rose and Inside Macintosh as my personal saviors.

HyperCard as a Web Browser (1)

dotslashlycos (1205128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536227)

I remember back when I was 10 or so in the early/mid 90s I helped my dad set up an appletalk localtalk network throughout my whole house. It was just crappy speaker wire on a bus typology style network and it was slow as anything, but it allowed us to move files around and do all that other "network" stuff (which back in the day wasn't all that much). I thought this article was interesting because at one point I actually did write a series of hypercard stacks that I called the "internet". I would run one on our "server" which was actually just an old mac classic and a different stack on each of the other computers in our house. The stacks would link to the cards in the stack on the "server" and it allowed me to set up a very simple internal email system. I think I even rigged something up to use hypercard as an instant messenger at one point. The idea came after my cat fell out of the second story window because me and my sister used to send messages to eachother's rooms using a pice of yarn and a sticky note. (The cat slept in the window and we didn't secure the screen afterwards) Looking back, the whole implementation was pretty silly but I definitely know first hand that hypercard could have taken off in a different direction. As a 10 year old, I stretched the networking capabilities of hypercard but if someone had caught on to those earlier hypercard may have been synonymous with webpages and hypercard with javascript.

Security could have been interesting... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536517)

If I recall, Hypercard stacks could do pretty much anything they wanted to on your computer. We could have had the ActiveX security nightmare years earlier.

IF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23536751)

"But Atkinson feels that if only he'd realized separate cards and stacks could be linked on different people's machines through the Net... he would have created the first Internet browser."

Yes. And if Atkinson's aunt had balls she would be his uncle.

Looking back, the crucial steps from HyperCard to World Wide Web seem minor, but, back then, those critical steps would have been huge mental leaps.

Atkinson didn't even come close. Hypertext developers working in the 1960's were just as close to creating the WWW as Atkinson was two decades later: [] All they had to do was make the same "connection" between Hypertext and computer networking that existed in the 1960s.

This article is just another Apple adoration piece that is full of misguided and dubious notions.

First browser was long before (1)

pazuzuzu (1264660) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536799)

the On-Line System [] did hyperlinked text over a network.

Does this guy have a different definition of "web browser?" Granted, HyperCard would have worked over modern networks, but it also would have worked on a proprietary technology running on a single OS, making it more like the first AOL than the first web browser.

translation (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23536979)

Well, just about the only thing that the Web did differently from previous hypertext systems was that it was open and networked.

So, if only hypercard hadn't been closed and proprietary, and if only Apple networking hadn't sucked badly back then, then it might have succeeded.

Of course, let's not forget that there was very little that was actually new in Hypercard to begin with.

It took this long to have the hindisght? (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#23537273)

I was taking a Hypercard class at university back in... Probably 93. I believe the class was part of the Journalism dept (for either insightful or random reasons). One day about 1/2 way through the class the prof comes in breathless and excited. He shows us Mosaic, starts explaining how it works. Before the end of the day he's scrapped the curriculum and we've started leaning HTML. (Which at that time took about an afternoon). Hypercard 101 had effectively become a web design class.

I have some nostalgia for Hypercard, but I don't think I touched a stack after that day.

HyperCard as a Web Server - YES! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537419)

I started working at a mail order company in 1997. They had no computers, and ran everything manually with paper invoices/etc.

I had learned HyperCard in middle school, and applied my knowledge to a system that would do invoicing, customer database, and shipping. I convinced the owner by purchase some used Mac IIsi computers, and up we went (localtalk phonewire network and all). After a year, I figured out a way to "share" the database between multiple machines: I had updates to customer's cardfiles written as update text files on the server, and other copies of the database would update their records based on these files. We still use this exact system today (11 years later). We have 60,000+ customer records being held in HyperCard stacks.

In 2000, I decided to take our products to the web. We purchased a fibre-optic internet connection, a PowerMac G4, and LiveCard. Using WebSTAR server, and LiveCard with HyperCard, we were able to build an online store for ordering products. We used this system until June 2007, when our online customer database CRASHED. I had already been programming in Runtime Revolution when our webstore crashed, so I ported (in about 2 months) our online HyperCard store to Runtime Revolution's CGI engine and HTML.

If you miss HyperCard, the best replacement I've found is Runtime Revolution's CGI function, Apache, and Linux/Mac OS X. You have to "double code" (ie: write your programming, and write the HTML to interact with it), but this is far faster, more powerful, and better looking that HyperCard ever was. And, you can use the same language as HyperCard.

Apple-Only is a sure way to kill a great idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23537637)

The Hupercard was a great idea and had enormous market potential. Too bad they chose the wrong platform. If a PC version had been available, it would have . . . oh well, it's only money.

Stackware hits a barrier at some point (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23538327)

I like the concept of Stackware such as HyperCard. I personally have programmed and maintain an Application [] built in RunRev that has a custom designed pixel-true layout of the UI. Aside from the strange language associated with RunRev ('Transscript') which is something like "Lingo done right" (Yeah, I know how bizar that sounds) it is a neat concept and lets you roll procedural, extremely visual oriented apps with zero fuss. Building my App in something like Java would have been a Nightmare.
However, working with Stackware only takes you so far and only if you plan your application well. Stackware is the anti-thesis of object-orientation (visual objects aside) and the virutal machines used for existing solutions are performance hogs as soon as it goes beyond trivial applications.
As soon as serious componentisation and scalability is required, Stackware solutions hit a brick wall - especially if they use a programming language that tries to ape the english language. Which in the end is impossible to do.

Stackware still enjoys it's ecological niche in the programming world - and for good reasons too. The community hasn't changed or evolved that much since HyperCard, but it still is alive and kicking. Which goes to show that it still has it's place. However, as soon as an application leaves the desktop and becomes distributed, or based on working, documented, standardised technology, the air gets very thin for this sort of solution. No matter how step the learning curve and how difficult the preperation for an application in a classic programming technology may seem at first sight. It allways has been that way and allways will be.

Bottom line: Stackware is neat and fine and dandy, and there's no thing like it when it comes to definite frozen-speced custom specialised GUI Apps for vertical markets. Anything beyond that is much better served with regular PLs or even the most obscure OSS scritping enviroment, be it Java/Swing or Perl/TK or whatever.

no HyperCard, no Newton (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23538477)

The lack of HyperCard (both creation and execution) is why I didn't buy a Newton. I had (and have) no use for most (if not all) of the apps bundled into PDAs, but the ability to create my own would have sold me one in a NY minute.

BTW, how easy is it to dump apps from (?whatever)ROM on current PDAs and add things of more interest to me in the freed space?

HyperCard and SOA (1)

DarrenLott (1295581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23538499)

I spent over 10 years creating about 100 business applications in HyperCard. Nabisco's Buena Park Bakery essentially ran on HyperCard, with everything from Time Clocks, Attendance Tracking (Voice Response), Case Counters, Oven Controls, Real Time Line Efficiency, thru a VERY SOPHISTICATED Statistical Process Control System that was language independent and used by factories in 5 countries.

All of the systems were networked and the HyperCard Stacks communicated through AppleEvents. If you look at SOA today, I had a significant implementation over a decade ago with HyperCard. But instead of XML-RPC, it was CSV-AppleEvent based.

The downside was people needed Macs to participate, and Nabisco's IT Dept was very anti-Apple. When the web came, I created a CGI to link HTTP Requests to AppleEvents, and BINGO, Accountants with PCs could suddenly see all the Mac data in their browsers. I didn't even have to change any of the HyperCard code.

HyperCard more than lived up to its dream. One person could create a masterpiece with it, and many did. But the business model of "Open and Free" eventually worked against it. Commercial Software Developers didn't take to it because it was easy to see the code and create derivative works (really easy). Corporate IT Departments were all in bed with IBM and later Microsoft, and weren't about to allow the spread of Macs in general business. And People from Apple came to see the Bakery and were very, very impressed, except HyperCard wasn't pushing any of their current marketing initiatives.

Bill Atkinson did not miss anything in HyperCard's design. The original screen size limitations were overcome in later versions (I would frequently fill a 2-page display with a real time monitoring stack, displaying charts and graphs with detailed drill downs. Exactly like today's Business Intelligence apps). The interpreted code seemed slow on a MacPlus, but turned out to be its core strength. Any Mac sold in the 90s ran HyperCard very fast, and a library of XCMDs allowed you do just about anything you'd do in a Mac Application. And because of how the interpreted code was handled (scripts were objects), I was able to make significant use of a "Self Modifying Code" architecture.

About the only thing missing from HyperCard was critical transition to OS X.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?