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Hypercard's history

SiliconUser takes a short look at ye olde Hypercard technology, Apple's precursor to the concepts that eventually became HTML and the World Wide Web. The project was originally created in 1985 as an easier way to create programs on the Macintosh-- it consisted of a "cards and stacks" metaphor, as in you created one card that linked to another card in the stack, and so on. Early Hypercard stacks just worked as organized information databases, but eventually Hypercard ended up doing more and more-- cards could work as applications in themselves, and the links between them served as a precursor to hyperlinks and what we know as the Internet today. Personally, I only used Hypercard very minimally, and it's hard for me to imagine as much functionality coming out of Hypercard as we've got with CSS, HTML, and PHP today. But Hypercard faithful (of which the numbers seem to be not quite known), held onto the application for a long time.

Hypercard's downfall came arguably not because it failed to stand up to new concepts, but because Apple, in a blunder, passed the program away to Claris, who tried to sell it rather than include it free in Macs. By the time Apple took it back, in 1993, the momentum was lost, and after a short period with Apple's Quicktime division, Hypercard was discontinued in 2004. Previous to that, Hypercard 3.0 was shown at WWDC 1996 (including the ability to display Hypercard stacks in a web browser, which might have been the key to keeping Hypercard alive), but that release never came. There are a few traces of Hypercard left on Apple's site, but as a technology, it's as dead as dead gets.

Thanks, Thomas!

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