Cyberculture History: Before the World Wide Web Did Anything, HyperCard Did Everything

cyberpunk stack for Hypercard
Above: an image from the Beyond Cyberpunk Hypercard stack

Ars Technica honors the 25 anniversary of Hypercard, a discontinued desktop hypertext application for Macs:

Even before its cancellation, HyperCard’s inventor saw the end coming. In an angst-filled 2002 interview, Bill Atkinson confessed to his Big Mistake. If only he had figured out that stacks could be linked through cyberspace, and not just installed on a particular desktop, things would have been different.

“I missed the mark with HyperCard,” Atkinson lamented. “I grew up in a box-centric culture at Apple. If I’d grown up in a network-centric culture, like Sun, HyperCard might have been the first Web browser. My blind spot at Apple prevented me from making HyperCard the first Web browser.” […]

Programmers for the Cyan software company originally wrote their hugely popular puzzle/adventure game Myst as a HyperCard stack. That explains the game’s beautiful graphics and slow motion quality, punctuated by ambient sounds or an unexpected video. But even in 1987, when Macs displayed in black and white, HyperCard developers and graphics artists produced subtle, fascinating landscapes that often escape the Web to this day.

Full Story: Ars Technica: 25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web


  1. Before hypercard, there was (the proposal for) Project Xanadu (1960). But hypercard delivered the goods while Project Xanadu as been in development (shall we say) all this time.

  2. RTFA 😉

    But on that subject, Vannevar Bush, HG Wells and Jorge Borges all proposed hypertext systems as well. None of those delivered the goods either.

  3. dude i used to love hypercard. used that shit all through grade school. in a way i guess filemaker was the next logical step, which like it or not i still use every (week)day.

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