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HyperCard On The Archive (archive.org)
327 points by dogecoinbase on Aug 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments

Hypercard is largely responsible for my love of programming. As a kid, I would work with my sisters on making games in it. It was a beautiful combination of half painting program, half drag'n'drop GUI creation that we used to make adventure games. Each card represented a room, and my sisters would draw on it using the paint tools, and I would follow up after and add invisible buttons over doors and the like to allow for 'moving' through rooms. We'd then use the built-in MacInTalk speech stuff to make characters say things, too. Granted, they were silly little games without much point to them, but... as a kid, man. It was like magic, learning you could have computers do this.

I was sad when Hypercard fell out of general distribution with the Mac, but I'm happy to see it here.

When I was 14 years old, I demoed my HyperCard-based game for none other than Bill Gates. My recollection is that he seemed genuinely interested in how I built it, and he knew more than I expected about Macs and HyperCard.

That sounds like a very interesting story!

Care to share (if possible) how you ended up showing your game to Bill Gates when you were 14? Hiw old was he at that time?

I was (maybe) a freshman at Lakeside High School at that time, which is his Alma Mater. I believe the occasion was the opening of the Gates-Allen Math and Science Building. The year would have been 1987 or so.


Thanks for sharing.

PS. Sorry for the duplicated post. I was on my phone and for some reason I thought the first post wasn't sent correctly.

What was the stack you demoed? You still have it lying around?

It was a space travel game not unlike a very rudimentary (and 1-bit) version of Faster Than Light. It could be on a floppy somewhere. I still have the original 128k Mac that I built it on, but it's in storage.

Edit: Fun thing that I just remembered—the game had a picture of your space ship that showed damage to various areas during battles. The image was scanned on an ImageWriter (Thunderscan!) from a magazine photo of a Delorean, and then I used MacPaint (Fatbits!) to erase the wheels and make the undercarriage look like a space ship. Pretty awesome for those early days, if I do say so myself.

If you ever get the stack of that disk, please do upload it. I'd love to see it!

Visual Basic always struck me as the grown-up version of Hypercard.

Microsoft’s HTA[1] tech is probably their closet thing to HyperCard.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_Application

I was once hired to update a bunch of Word Basic (pre-Visual BASIC) code that generated HTA files from a bunch of Word documents that was used to maintain the ISO 9001 quality handbook for a major company. It was three weeks of torture, but it worked surprisingly well (and I say that as someone who at the time, in '96 or '97, was a devout Microsoft hater and was not inclined to look for good sides to it).

I didn't know Word BASIC or how HTA's worked at all before I got the job - had never touched it at all, and I've never needed it since, but it was simple enough that I did the planned work the first week, and spent the remaining two dragging my feet because I couldn't afford to risk telling the customer they'd severely over-estimated the effort in case they'd want to cut the contract short. I didn't feel too bad about it - I spent the extra time adding additional automation and polish, and they were pleased enough to want me back for more work the next year.

Now we are using Electron, isn't it funny how these things keep coming around every decade or two.

The need for low barrier to entry programming tools will always be there. Now we have stuff like https://developers.google.com/appmaker/ but it's more Crystal Reports than VB5/6. Still, there are alternatives.

The programming tool with the lowest barrier to entry (that's still actively developed) is probably Scratch:


There are a few game maker tools with low barriers to entry too.

But it's not very similar?

That sounds like a very interesting story!

Care to share how did you end up showing your game to Bill Gates? How old was he at the time?

I made probably my second game on Hypercard. It was called "Dessert Storm". It was a misspelling which I was oblivious to at the time (which gives you an idea how old I was and what decade it was).

Later in life I made a point-and-click game similar to the one you described, on a newer version of Hypercard. This one had sound. I made this with a couple classmates in elementary or middle school. It was based on caricatures we had made of our school life, teachers, and classmates.

Hah! I made a Desert Storm game too. You had to shoot down Scuds with Patriots. I think I had a level with tanks too, which had a giant Saddam head as a target for no reason other than the fact I was pleased with how I could draw him.

Yours sounds way better.

There's a very good chance that I'm remembering it as better than it was. I'm gutted that I don't know where all my Hypercard games are now.

We hope to keep the upload website running for a while, so if you do stumble across your stacks in a few months, you should still be able to get them running on the Archive.

Heh, I didn't even have levels. In fact, the planes stopped when you shot the bullet. I hadn't learned about event loops yet.

I was very pleased with my two frame explosion animations.

I'll just add my little "me too!": my first experience programming was when I got the chance to play with hypercard in middle school, and I created an interactive periodic table of the elements in it. Nothing fancy, just click to get details on an element. From there I went on to the New Mexico Supercomputer challenge in high school (good memories), and then on to an undergraduate degree in CS. Still coding science oriented software decades later.

Another here. I'd played with BASIC and Logo for a couple of years by then, but HyperCard blew my mind. It was the first time I could make games that were actually fun to play. It was 1991 and I remember, age 11, making a Desert Storm game, where you had to shoot down Scuds with Patriot missiles. By all accounts that was more successful that the real thing! I didn't consider I could do it as a job until I bought my first iMac seven years later though.

I did exactly the same as a kid, only I didn't have a mac. But my parents bought me some kind of German learning program (Addi?). It had a card painting mode with visually programmable events exactly as you describe - must have been a Hypercard clone then.

Not to be "me too", but ME TOO!

Commodore 64 BASIC got me started, but HyperCard kept me moving.

I'm in the same boat. Stated out with the C64 but found "drawing" by working out the hex codes to poke into the sprite gen a bit too much for 10 year old me. Then my parents bought a Mac LC with System 7 that came with a full Hypercard dev stack. We also scrounged a copy of ResEdit and were off to the races. I learned the language mostly from opening up existing stacks and inspecting the code, sometimes with a text editor if the stack was protected (like many games were).

Wow, are all of you software engineers? That would be cool to have a family engineers.

I ended up being the only software engineer, but computers definitely stuck with all of us (both my sisters ended up working in the gaming industry).

Hypercard in a lot of ways is what the Web could have been.

If never became as easy to create high quality freeform sites and apps as it was multimedia Hypercard decks and games. Hypercard changed my life in childhood, even without learning about its scripting features.

HyperStudio was pretty good too. We used that in school quite a bit.

> ... what the Web could have been... If never became as easy to create high quality freeform sites and apps...

You're writing as if it's too late. It's not!

What the Web has going for it today are ubiquity, multimedia capabilities, and the ability to deploy applications with no end-user installation step. There has never been a platform as advanced on these three axes as the Web today. This is a really big deal.

As you highlighted, the missing piece is the creation environment. If only someone could create an accessible, freeform, code-backed interaction design tool for the modern web, learning from forebears like Hypercard and Flash, and respecting/leveraging modern creatives' & engineers' tools of the trade.

Sounds crazy. But that hasn't stopped us from chasing this dream at Haiku: https://haiku.ai

What is AI about Haiku? Is .ai just the new .io ? It just looks like a web component designer.

Maybe it's 愛, to signify things "made with love"?

this is now our official answer. 谢谢, 朋友

Seems the tech industry has a soft spot for British colony TLDs.

All Hypercard needed was the concept of an network URI for a target and it could have been the web. Well, that and a version that worked on PC and Unix and a way to make the stacks available to other machines on the network.

Ok, so there was a fair bit of work that would have been required, but they had a big headstart. Of course almost nobody was thinking about the Internet back in the late 80s and early 90s. Bill Gates released a book in 1995 entitled "The Road Ahead" that barely mentioned the Internet at all.

Ted Nelson

His Project Xanadu is still around: http://xanadu.com/

So glad someone else recognised the reference, there is more at http://generalcreative.com it is very much an ongoing project, zigzag got spun into lots of zz structures, search github, also https://github.com/waywardmonkeys/udanax-green versions of udanax, the Xanadu spin off

Roger Wagner here, creator of HyperStudio. Thanks for the mention!

Wow, that's awesome. Thanks for stopping by and creating such a wonderful program.

In addition to echoing all the dev-related stories in this thread, I have very fond memories from my childhood of playing a 1988 HyperCard-based game called The Manhole (on our SE/30, and later Power Mac 8100).

It was an immersive and extensive visual world, where the main point was just to explore. It was implemented as a series of linked HyperCard stacks, each sized to fit on a floppy disk. You'd come to remember the exact points of the game that would throw up a modal dialog prompting the insertion of the next required disk.

And, it happens to have been made by the brothers Rand and Robyn Miller, who later went on to create Myst (which itself is very reminiscent of The Manhole).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manhole https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyOTq1EpV5o

Unrelatedly, I wonder if anyone in this thread remembers SuperCard, a third-party knock-off of HyperCard that offered such amazing innovations as color graphics. (I also seem to recall some kind of hack where you could use ResEdit to get colour images into HyperCard stacks even though it wasn't officially supported, but the details are fuzzy).

The Manhole is actually on archive.org already, so you can play it straight from your browser! https://archive.org/details/TheManholeMacintosh

One of my best friends made a toolkit available on AOL's HyperCard section called "Color Paint Tools" which let you put color into your stacks (making that hack you mentioned easier). If I remember correctly, HyperCard could show color images via an XCMD but they'd have to be a PICT resource (so it's not a real solution). I think Apple eventually released an update (HyperCard 2.2?) which included an official toolkit for doing this

Apple indeed did - so any stacks uploaded to this archive will likely need to not use the color XCMD.

The Manhole is in the Archive as well.

So it is - you need to search the Macintosh section rather than the HyperCard section. Thanks!

Two other Rand and Robyn Miller titles are there too: https://archive.org/details/TheManholeMacintosh https://archive.org/details/CosmicOsmoMacintosh https://archive.org/details/SpelunxMacintosh

I never had a Mac in that era but I'm looking forward to trying these after reading the Digital Antiquarian article about the Manhole: http://www.filfre.net/2016/10/the-manhole/

The HyperCard stack I was really interested in seeing after all these years, though, was the Mackerel Stack - alas, not there (yet)... http://www.craphound.com/nonfic/mackerel.html

Remember XMCD's?

There are now several hundred XCMDs on the Internet Archive you can browse through! https://archive.org/details/hypercardstacks?and[]=subject%3A...

Bill Atkinson apparently kicks himself for not being the first to realize that simply making the stacks work over a network could potentially have been the first "web browser" (or at least, internet hypertext engine)

HyperCard was totally awesome at the time.

It's easy to forget that at that time Apple was pushing AppletTalk and the TCP stack was a separate installer, so if it was over the network the network would have been the local AppleTalk network, not a global server.

The OS wasn't Unix based back then.

Becoming an internet-capable OS doesn't require Unix, though

To be fair, in 1992 when I first used a web browser my first thought was "why would anyone want to load a document over the internet"... :-)

To be fair, the Internet blindsided the entire consumer computer industry right about 1995 or so.

Apple's love for it's highly limited and slow AppleTalk protocol didn't do it any favors either.

I definitely remember making a hypercard stack that served an ore deposit data base over the internet. That was about 1995

did it use some kind of appletalk networking over TCP/IP though? That's different IMHO. I also don't know if stacks were multiuser ever (could be opened and edited by multiple people)

I can't remember. Sorry

HyperTalk was the first programming language I ever learned. Now I understand how each card was an object that I was manipulating.

It was so good! It's too bad it never became more popular and disappeared.

It was also a great introduction to event based programming e.g. attaching HyperTalk scripts to 'on mouseUp'.

As an avid HyperCard user one of the problems was you couldn't extend it with new UI components. I did write an XCMD (C code to extend HyperCard) but there was no way to visualise new stuff, I understand it was because of the highly optimised code by Bill Atkinson. The extensibility is probably why Visual Basic took off.

Ah, that was Flash 5 for me. I remember convincing my dad to buy me the boxed copy, which was something like $199 back then (2000), which was quite a bit of money. I remember how ActionScript was a Big Deal and how I'd hang out on Newgrounds, DeviantArt, CGTalk, etc with some geeky kids from school who were also into design (though we didn't call it that at the time, it was just general middle school dorkery and computer stuff). JavaScript was a dark art back then, ActiveX was cool, and free hosting accounts like FortuneCity and Homestead were what we had to work with. The lame kids used Tripod and GeoCities, but we were cool with our .TK domain names. ActiveWorlds was the future, DJing was our future profession, and Quake 3 over hacked Netzero without the toolbar was the way we took our deathmatch. The MS IntelliMouse Optical was what you used if you were REALLY cool, along with a Trinitron monitor and Altec Lansing POWERED speakers WITH A SUBWOOFER. We eventually got CABLE MODEM and that blew our minds again. Suddenly we could FTP FreeBSD images down without waiting overnight.

Ah, the good old days.

I remember saving up to buy a second-hand 21" Trinitron monitor back in... 2002? Damn, that was the shit! I found that so cool! I still sometimes wonder if i should find a Trinitron somewhere, just for nostalgia's sake.

Isn't "no HyperCard for Windows" another likely reason?

WindowScript was a popular XCMD that would let you open multiple windows with native controls (which is how many stacks added color support long before HyperCard did).

> Now I understand how each card was an object

And inheritance too! Every card inherits from its background. It was basically OOP.

oop it was not. perhaps prototypical.

If you don't think prototype programming is OO, your definition of OO is remarkably restrictive (and in my opinion wrong.)

I'd suggest reading up on Self -- or Smalltalk-72 for that matter.

My first OO programming language was the 'MOO' language used in the online LambdaMOO text-'VR' worlds.

I wish I could go back 10 years old playing with HyperCard with understanding I have now!

What's stopping you?

I also made a handful of things with Hypercard. A very impressive program. I'd say it was killed by a combination of Steve Jobs' desire to turn Macs into appliances and the web.

It's still around:


They used to have a really perplexing pricing model, but I think you can use it for home now mostly unrestricted.

My project is a bit of a spiritual successor to HyperCard: https://github.com/hyperfiddle/hypercrud.browser

Hypercard was before my time; I heard about it recently when someone compared it to what we're building with Metaverse [0].

When you so dramatically reduce the friction required to create that anyone, especially non-technical folks, can do it, all kinds of amazing things happen. I watched an 11 year old build the "Not Hot Dog" app from Silicon Valley, using Google's Vision API, in ten minutes (from never having seen the Metaverse Studio to having her app deployed on device, cross-platform, and sending it to her friends; this is how creation SHOULD be for 99% of people!).

[0] - http://gometa.io (also check out how easy it is to create apps that integrate with IoT devices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPrBLPG3Smk -- Hypercard for the modern age!)

HyperTalk was my first programming language!

I helped a friend build a choose-your-own-adventure murder mystery game called Blood Hotel, and found myself obsessed with the feeling of inventive power that programming enabled.

I ended up building an animated space invaders game, and even tried my hand at writing a "virus" in HyperTalk that would infect other stacks with its code.

Ah, the good old days. Lovely to see this at the top of HN!

HyperCard was my first foray into programming at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center - Apparently Starfleet runs on HyperCard, [here's a video][1] showing the program in action. Most of the software in the video is built in HyperCard.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG2lSb1xrNM "Four Hours: A Space Trip"

My 7th grade 'computers' class was basically a HyperCard course. It was amazing and I made a cool choose-your-own-adventure game.

I can even play it on iPhone:


Moving cursor with touch is kind of challenging though.

This is fantastic! Moving around the cursor on my iPhone seems pretty good after the initial learning curve of "dragging moves the cursor from where it currently is, not to where my finger is."

And it's amusing to see all these stacks made by young people - like myself back then! I'll need to dig up my old stacks.

Yes please do! The more stacks the better.

I've found dragging with my finger works decently well, or at least on Chrome on Android

HyperCard was amazing. My first online experience was with AOL in 1993 and they had a HyperCard section where you could upload/download your stacks. I racked up huge bills hanging out in that area (pay by the minute)

Well, now you can do the same in the Internet Archive... all of the ones that were saved from the AOL HyperCard section before it closed are online.

Hypercard was the best - I messed with it nearly constantly from when I was 13-15. Remember being stuck in the computer lab for study halls and whipping up animations that would mock teachers at the school.

The hardest thing I made at that time was a wack-a-mole style game where the cards flipped randomly with a button/graphic to wack the thing. I couldn't figure out how to make it click a button while it was in the loop, but eventually I figured out how to break it to click the button. I still remember the code : 'if the click then click the click lock'

good times

I loved Hypercard for prototyping UI back then. UI designers didn't really exist and programmers like me typically designed stuff, don't laugh, having artists involved was a web era thing for the most part. Being able to prototype and animate quickly was incredibly useful for explaining an idea to a product manager, or showing another programmer what you had in mind. Today there are great tools but they are clearly meant for a different audience.

If you're familiar with the original You Don't Know Jack game - that was all prototyped on HyperCard, originally.

My project http://www.fractalide.com is looking to build out a new hypercard type environmont

I love the stuff the Archive keeps coming up with. I'm glad I finally started donating to their cause last year.

I did my first programming in HyperTalk, which I learned from the HyperCard 2.0 manual.

Back then, software came with well-written paper manuals, and the translation quality (into Finnish in my case) was very good, too. I feel like Apple manuals peaked with HyperCard 2.0.

Holy shit, one of the old stacks I wrote in high school and uploaded to AOL shows up on the first page of that list! Right near all of the eyebrow raising "What exactly are the sex laws in my state, asking for a friend..." type stacks.

You've noticed where I've been getting many of the stacks from, then! (The old AOL HyperCard pages).

Sadly you didn't get at least one other stack I uploaded. Or maybe AOL deleted it for some reason. I have not had that account for over 20 years now.

AOL did delete everything quite unexpectedly... if you ever find that stack on a floppy or elsewhere, email me (hypercardonline@gmail.com) and I'd be happy to assist getting it running online.

Next time I visit my parents I'll have to see if I can get their old Mac LC chugging again. Apple built them like tanks back then, I wouldn't be surprised if it still works. The Hard Drive is the biggest question mark.

So, who will do a hypercard for the web? Or better still: a hypercard based alternative to the web?

Glitch, from Fog Creek, seems to be modeled after Hypercard, somewhat. https://glitch.com/

When I was an intern at Inkling in 2013, the engineer that started Habitat, the eBook editor we were working on, showed us HyperCard. It was amazing how many of the features we were working on had been in HyperCard for 25 years. Now Habitat is limited to enterprise publishers, things have come full circle.


hypercard via gopher would be a heck of a thing. :p

Justin Falcone has a fantastic talk about the importance of HyperCard. He did all the slides in HyperCard and he gets super into it.


I loved hypercard and wish it was still around. I learned how to code in that an in TI-Basic

LiveCode (livecode.com) (ex Runtime Revolution) is a pretty good descendant of HyperCard. Cards, controls, scripts are mostly compatible. I migrated many of my old stacks to LiveCode.

The OP's link actually lets you fire up the stacks and edit them, although I don't think the state is saved when you close

It's not saved yet, but the Internet Archive is apparently working on this!

The state is not saved.

Fun fact: The game Myst was created in HyperCard (at least the original Mac version was).

I loved HyperCard.

As an Amiga user, I remember a good clone named CanDo. It was really interesting.

I keep forgetting CanDo - it gets put in the shadow of Amiga Vision. But I found this interesting snipped about CanDo [1] - made me curious about looking into the language and VM more.

[1] http://www.pcmuseum.ca/details.asp?id=37794&type=software

Any oldies here who can recount why exactly Hypercard was killed? Seems like such a wonderful piece of software.

The first bullet was when Apple decided to monetize it and switched all new Macs to only get Hypercard Player instead of the full development stack.

They also didn't do a Windows port until it was way too late.

Apple also seemed to mostly stop development on it shortly after the System 7 release.

I think it was Apple's poor management and succession of ineffective CEOs in the late 80s and early 90s. They delayed bringing it to Windows, and lacked the vision to pursue adding networking features to it.

Eventually, Mosaic came along and the rest is history.

I will dig up some old projects...

Does anyone know if XCMDs are supported?

If the XCMD comes with a sample stack, that stack will be uploaded. If it's just an XCMD it may be trickier. If you find any stack that isn't working because of a missing XCMD (or any other reason) then let me know - hypercardonline@gmail.com

Given that there's a topic "hypercard_xcmd-xfcn" I'd wager they are. Archive.org is essentially emulating a Mac Plus that runs HyperCard in the browser.

if you are a real sicko you can actually emulate it on basilisk and keep making stacks..

I don't know about the sicko slur, but I run it on Basilisk II from time to time if it will be useful.

Also, every stack in the Internet Archive has a downloadable disk image that can be downloaded and run offline in an emulator, or on an old Mac if you still have one.

They are some really nice web based emulators. It's almost certainly 100% nostalgia but there is a certain charm to these early Mac games...simple but somehow deeply detailed monochrome graphics...easy to use point and click interface...it's great to see them spring back to life in a web browser.

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