The reason I loved HyperCard

But why did it have to die?

Britni Pepper
Jun 2, 2020 · 7 min read
Stone age software (image by author)
Snippet of Swift code
Snippet of Swift code
Code example from Swift Developer Blog

HyperCard was different

HyperCard — they all seemed to have capital letters in the middle of product names in those days — was old school Mac. It was black and white to begin with, and it was super elegant.

A handler to export text from the background fields of a HyperCard stack to a text file.

   on mouseUp
put the short name of this stack & ".txt" into defaultName
ask "Export text to what file?" with defaultName
if it is empty then exit mouseUp
put it into fileName
open file fileName
go to first card
repeat for the number of cards
repeat with i = 1 to the number of fields
put field i into temp
repeat
if return is not in temp then exit repeat
put space into char offset (return, temp) of temp
end repeat
write temp to file fileName
if i < the number of fields then
write tab to file fileName
else write return to file fileName
end if
end repeat
go to next card
end repeat
close file fileName
end mouseUp
(Dr Dobbs)
HyperCard: what’s in the box (image by author)

So what is HyperCard?

Anything and everything. It could have been the computing world’s first internet browser, if the creator had been thinking outside the box. It was based around some high-level research where every bit of human knowledge was indexed and analysed and linked to every other bit. Sort of like Wikipedia where anything that looks remotely like a keyword is linked to an article, which is in itself full of more links.

A commercial success?

Kind of. One of the best computer games ever — Myst — was written in HyperCard. It had a dreamy, mystical feel to it, it featured colour, and it was beautiful. You had to solve all manner of puzzles to progress through the game, but each one was ingenious.

So why did I love it?

In a world full of computers and languages that assumed you were a high-order geek, and had apparently been written by the same people who think the bottom kitchen drawer is a masterwork of unity and organisation, HyperCard was elegant.

It’s not around any more?

HyperCard was released in 1987, three years after the Macintosh, and ended in 1998. There were various clones — SuperCard, Oracle Card, LiveCode and many more — and they gradually fell by the wayside as hardware and operating systems were upgraded.

But there’s one left

LiveCode. This one survived. It runs on current Macs, and many other platforms. It has a free version, and some (expensive) commercial products. Fair enough, I guess. Play around with the freebie, which is extremely powerful, and if you want to deploy actual apps and run on the internet, it’s going to cost you a few hundred a year.

Give it a go

Seriously. You don’t have to be a coder. Just someone with an idea. It’s free to start with, there’s a tonne of support, masses of examples, and in theory you can develop an iPad app in three minutes.

Grab a Slice

A place for Slice of Life stories, novel extracts, poems…

Britni Pepper

Written by

Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

Grab a Slice

A place for Slice of Life stories, novel extracts, poems, songs and whatever you fancy.

Britni Pepper

Written by

Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

Grab a Slice

A place for Slice of Life stories, novel extracts, poems, songs and whatever you fancy.

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