HyperCard released, August 1987
Steve Jobs Killed It . . . But not in a good way
Apple's introduction of HyperCard at Macworld in August 1987 wins my vote for one of the most exciting events in computing history. Bill Atkinson, HyperCard's architect, wanted to democratize computing by creating a platform for ordinary people to “make things.” Hypercard, enabled users to create stacks of (virtual) cards which could be linked to each other in different ways. The six buttons in the photo, celebrating the idea of linking one idea to another (hypertext) were given away at the Macworld launch.
Teachers were the first to glom onto HyperCard, yielding an explosion of creativity as tens of thousands of non-programmers were suddenly empowered to assemble credible content on their own.
Much of HyperCard's power came from Dan Winkler's plain-english programming language — HyperTalk. I'll never forget my own glee when I made a button to advance to the next page by simply adding the simple script "Go Next Card" to a graphic of a forward facing arrow. This was heady stuff for someone who practically failed "physics for poets." Nothing I ever made with HyperCard was good enough to publish, but I was able to create first drafts which my dear colleagues Steve Riggins (and later Colin Holgate) turned into something useful and wonderful. I'll make separate entries later on for some of the things we made.
Two more things:
Bill Atkinson said that the idea for HyperCard came to him during an acid trip.
One of the very first things Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple was to kill HyperCard. It was a sad day and I trust history will judge him harshly for this.
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