A brief history of HyperCard

Matthew Lasar for Ars Technica:

This month, I glanced at my historical watch. HyperCard will soon be 25, I noticed. What ever happened to it? I searched around and found venture entrepreneur and coder Tim Oren’s 2004 eulogy for the program, written the week that Apple withdrew the software from the market. HyperCard’s problem, he argued, was that Apple never quite figured out what the software was for.

HyperCard, for the uninitiated, was an early software app for the Mac created by Apple programmer Bill Atkinson that enabled users to create stacks which could contain everything from fields of data to pictures, buttons which could execute scripts and more. Part database software, part multimedia system, the software predicted hyperlinking on Web pages and many techniques that we take for granted today.

  • quietstorms

    I wouldn’t mind it if something similar to Hypercard came to iOS…

  • DocRoss

    I created a Hypercard stack app that I used to collect and cross reference all of my research for my PhD. In Theatre History.

    I’m no computer geek, but having Hypercard available made my work, notes, quotes, and bibliography so easy to manage. I loved that program.

  • Jim H

    I remember playing the Manhole, what a fun hypercard game that was. Of course by todays standards it would be a joke. It was created by Cyan, you know the creators of Myst?


  • Konrad

    For me FileMaker II (later Pro) replicated most of the functionality of Hypercard. Very GUI and easy to program too especially since you can use AppleScript with it. Like Hypercard you can easily create buttons and assign actions and scripts to them. I assume since FileMaker is a division of Apple that it borrowed heavily from Hypercard. Maybe even some of the same people worked on both?

    • Peter Cohen

      FileMaker was not originally an Apple product. It was first created for MS-DOS (before the Mac was introduced) and only later made for the Mac (by a company called Nashoba Systems, based in my home state of Massachusetts).

      FileMaker became an Apple product after Apple formed Claris; Claris bought Nashoba Systems (that’s when it was rebranded as FileMaker II). Eventually FileMaker became so successful that Apple changed Claris’ name to FileMaker Inc., and the rest is history.