Whatever happened to… Hypercard

Hypercard stacks

Hypercard stacks

A long time ago in a galaxy far away – (sorry that’s another story). A long time ago before the internet became ubiquitous I managed to gather enough funds (yet another story) to purchase my first computer – a Macintosh SE/30 4:40. A wonderfully well built machine with a 9 inch monochrome screen. I still own it and it still works (last time I checked), but before I get caught up in too much nostalgic reflection what I wanted to talk about was Hypercard.
You see Hypercard shipped with the Mac and was my first experience of a graphical user interface (GUI). The machines where I worked at the time were green screened pre-windows DOS computers – Hypercard was a revelation.
This is from Wikipedia: HyperCard is based on the concept of a “stack” of virtual “cards.” Cards hold data, just as they would in a rolodex. The layout engine was similar in concept to a “form” as used in most Rapid Application Development (RAD) environments (such as Borland Delphi or Visual Basic). A special “Home” stack (precursor to the home page on a website) was available as an application launcher, a repository for shared scripts, and a facility for setting preferences.
This was the first time I really felt that I could make use of a computer for more than simple word processing. The potential was there for so much more. SuperPaint and Aldus PageMaker followed and true Desk Top Publishing had arrived.
A little background from Wikipedia: HyperCard is an application program created by Bill Atkinson for Apple Computer, Inc. that was among the first successful hypermedia systems before the World Wide Web. It combines database capabilities with a graphical, flexible, user-modifiable interface. HyperCard also features HyperTalk, written by Dan Winkler, a programming language for manipulating data and the user interface. Some HyperCard users employed it as a programming system for Rapid Application Development of applications and databases.
SE/30 computer

SE/30 also affectionally known as 'the toaster'

A few interesting points to finish:

The pointing-finger cursor used for navigating stacks later found its way into the first web browsers, as the hyperlink cursor.
Renault, the French auto manufacturer, used it to control their inventory system.
HyperNext is a freeware software development system that uses many ideas from HyperCard and can create both standalone applications and stacks that run on the freeware Hypernext Player. HyperNext is available for Mac OS X & Mac OS 9, and Windows XP & Vista.
According to Ward Cunningham, the inventor of Wikis, the wiki concept can be traced back to a HyperCard stack he wrote in the late 1980s, making HyperCard one of the grandparents of the Wiki idea. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperCard

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