By Casey Liss
HyperCard and Personal Genesis

A few days ago, /. (yes, I still read /.) linked to a wonderful remembrance of HyperCard. It is a lovely article, that brought back quite a few memories.

Despite being an ardent Apple user today, I wasn’t until 2008.

Before that time, as a child of an IBM’er, I grew up on ThinkPads. Some of the machines I had as a kid I still remember extremely fondly. The “butterfly” was a gimmick, but a wonderful one. My T30 was my home server until I got my Synology around a year ago. Erin rocked my T60 until I recently bought her a MacBook Air.

This post isn’t about ThinkPads, though. It’s about HyperCard.

When I was in grade school, it was the time of Oregon Trail on the Apple ][. Moving on to middle school, the Macintosh was the de rigueur computer of the time.

Those Macs came with HyperCard.

As a kid with a keen interest in computers, but who had — at most — written a few lines of BASIC, HyperCard was amazing. I remember being mesmerized by it. As a middle schooler, I was able to write seemingly-complex programs stacks, all because of how easy and logical HyperCard was. The choose your own adventure games I wrote in HyperCard were surprisingly complete and pretty. (Later, I’d repeat the process using new tools with new friends.)

HyperCard was the perfect way to dip your toe into the pool of writing software. From the article:

HyperCard represented perhaps the bravest part of this ‘computing for the people’ philosophy, as it enabled users to go past the pre-built software that came on the machines, and to program and build software of their own.

Not to be pigeonholed into being a tool for amateurs, HyperCard was used in many professional settings. One of the most popular games of all time, Myst, was written in HyperCard.

If I were to pinpoint the genesis of my career as a developer, fumbling about with HyperCard may have been it. Well, that or reading the PC-DOS manual and then making bitchin’ menu systems in batch scripts.

It makes me very sad that either there isn’t a modern equivalent of HyperCard, or if so, it’s so well hidden that no one really knows its name.