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HyperCard Zine (crime.team)
100 points by rbanffy 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 64 comments

Man, HyperCard was my jam. I learned to really program as a 10 year old making games in HyperCard.

This was before the internet, so my only source of docs and help was my copy old hand-me-down copy of The HyperCard Bible I got from a family friend.

I had no idea about data structures or anything, so I reinvented so many of them trying to make my games. I would create a field, make it really tiny, and then stick it way in the corner behind a button and use that as my data storage.

Same. Aside from some very primitive BASIC, at about 9 or 10 this was my first experience with programming. And yes, it counts as programming.

Hypercard hints at the kind of elegance that's possible when there isn't such a strict divide between the computer programmer and the computer user. We live in a world that went the complete opposite direction from this. So instead of being able to copy and paste the Bold button from Word and use it anywhere else in my system, or — gasp! — alt-click on it to change what it does, I have to learn a full programming stack to add new features to my own computer.

The thinking behind it is due for a comeback

React Components can almost do this. There are React dev tools to inspect each Component on the page (not just html element). You could jump to source and copy/paste the Component in another app.

I work in React daily and, unfortunately, it's nothing like what I'm describing and what Hypercard hinted at. React is for developers in 2018. Hypercard-like things are for personal computer users of all variety.

ALGOL and Simula 67 are also great languages for this. In those languages, code can be simply copied from one program into another, thereby imbuing the second program with functionality from the first.

I'm personally fond of Malbolge with Rust-bindings, but that's not quite as popular as React yet.

Me 4. Such an amazing piece of software. In some ways there's still no worthy replacement -- the lack of bullshit and the thoughtful integration of all the parts were quite remarkable.

I still remember the moment I figured out I could compare positions with if to make make an enemy follow you around the screen. I felt like a god!

Oh man, I made so many games with buttons moving around as enemies. And the. Smaller buttons acted as projectiles....

Me to! at 10 years old. Thankfully there was a lot of examples I could use, but I didn't have any "magic" HyperCard Bibles or books or anything like that, so I had to do a bit of Motorola 68000 programming and frankenstein myself a program.

I saw a talk with Bill Atkinson in which a surprising number of members of the audience claimed to still maintain old hardware just for running Hypercard. Two of the members said they used it to this day to keep their own financial records and/or run POS at their businesses. They also said unequivocally that they weren't programmers.

In a related talk, Atkinson finally came out and said that the idea for Hypercard came to him during an acid trip on a park bench.

Whoa, do you have a link to that Atkinson talk?

The original Myst game was written in Hypercard. With this knowledge, I wrote a Hunt the Wumpus 3D dungeon crawler in my high school CS class when everyone else was stuck with plain ol' text versions.

Were you FruitCase on AOL?

No, that was actually me. I think I called it Vumpir Slay. It was a 3D wumpus with something like a 20x20x20 cube and a map editor. I might still have it somewhere.

The only copy I had on my PC was corrupt, but I managed to find a floppy disk from 1997 and a USB floppy drive that worked. I booted into a Linux VM, passed the USB floppy through to the VM, used dd to create a disk image, added it to my BasiliskII configuration, and started a BasiliskII VM inside the Linux VM. I was able to get a Compact Pro file off of the floppy disk image, extract it, and get a working copy of the stack from the archive.

At the time that I wrote this, I had never taken any programming courses. I didn't even have any programming books. I was about 15 and entirely self-taught from reading the source code to other people's HyperCard stacks, so the code quality is probably terrible.

It is very strange to find out that someone else remembers a stupid project I did as a teenager 23 years ago.


Nice work with the file recovery. I wish I could recover my old stuff but it's all gone.

I remember a few names because I was 12 and wanted to be like the cool kids in ElectroSoft. My memory of your exact screen name was refreshed when I stumbled across LightHouse on archive.org a few months ago.


And it was the best selling computer game of all time for a good chunk of the 90s!

Is there an open-source hypercard equivalent? It seems that Hypercard made programming very accessible, so it would be good if an open source project/community is continuing the ethos.

It's not HyperCard, or intended to be, but Twine captures some of the spirit, I think.


https://livecode.com. Source claimed to be at https://livecode.org (can’t find it without registering, but maybe, I didn’t look hard enough). I don’t know how well it tracks the .com offering, either.

The source code seems to be at https://github.com/livecode/livecode

This used to be called MetaCard! I can't believe it's still around; I must have used this thing fifteen years ago.

HTML + javascript. I mean that as a serious answer to your question. I made a handful of stacks back then, and this is the logical replacement. While still not as cool in some ways as Hypercard, at least HTML + javascript is not confined to one company's computers.

Having done quite a lot of hypercard programming back in the day - HTML + javscript is nothing like a replacement. Hypercard's authoring simplicity was what made it so great.

Agreed. It's literally what got me into programming and entrepreneurship. Wrote and sold my first piece of software in Hypercard (and then SuperCard!).

I desperately wish it were still real, for my kids. I think it'd be far be the best way to get them coding.

It might well not have enough contemporary flare and flash for young kids used to modern computers, tablets, phones. But there are "classic Mac" emulators. I imagine they do Hypercard just fine.

I don't disagree - that's what I was thinking of when I said that HTML + javascript is not as cool as Hypercard. But in another way, it's cooler, because when you make something that works in a browser you can share it with the world.

"And if you think that XCode, Python, Processing, or the shit soup of HTML/Javascript/CSS are any kind of substitute for HyperCard, then read this post again. And if you continue to think so, then you might be an autistic typical software “engineer,” and please don’t waste your time commenting here. Sink back into the cube farm hellpit from whence you came.

Otherwise, sit down and contemplate the fact that what has been built once could probably be built again."


Do we really need to insult the non-neurotypical?

A large part of being autistic is insulting people without knowing it. Which can come across as cold and distant. I think OP was just trying to hint at the open mindset it takes to appreciate something like HyperCard

It's also a quote.

In my view, HC is not just a programming tool, but also a rudimentary database engine. This may have helped make it attractive in its day.

Of course HC was many things to many people. The modern replacement could be identified by what people actually use in daily life for simple programming and databases: Excel.

I wrote an assembler in HC.

I don't know of an open source version, but Supercard is still available for the mac, and will even play a large proportion of Hypercard stacks. http://www.supercard.us/

Pricey, mind!

Have always really liked Hypercard. Would totally be interested in a new Hypercard style system where users can upload and share cards. Kate Compton's "Generominos" project looks like a promising start: http://www.galaxykate.com/generominos/

Aside from the blatant identity politics of this "crime.team" site, it seems to be about the site creator trying to sell other people's submitted work for free.

> By submitting your stack, you are giving me permission to sell your stack as part of HyperCard Zine. I ask that, if your stack is published as part of HyperCard Zine, please wait at least a year after publication to sell it on your own.

Hard pass.

> it seems to be about the site creator trying to sell other people's submitted work for free.

… Just above the section you quote:

"All artists who end up in the final copy will get an equal cut of the revenue made from selling the collection."

Yeah, it sucks that you couldn't sell the stack you submit on your own for a year, but isn't almost always that the case for freelance work? When you're a freelance journalist, surely your client buys the right to publish your story exclusively for some period of time.

Maybe the alternative is not getting your weird Hypercard stack published at all? The curator's work is also worth something.

If this were a poetry journal that seeks contributions from young male writers, I don't think anyone would call it "blatant identity politics". Somehow women doing creative things on a computer get treated particularly harshly.

> If this were a poetry journal that seeks contributions from young male writers, I don't think anyone would call it "blatant identity politics".

That is exactly identity politics...

If that's the game they want to play then fine, but call a spade a spade here.

Publishing art with a theme is not automatically politics. Nor is it a “game”.

I wrote earlier about publishing live HyperCard stacks with WebStar -- I wonder if that would run in the Mac emulator:


>The coolest thing somebody did with WebStar was to integrate it with HyperCard so you could actually publish live INTERACTIVE HyperCard stacks on the web, that you could see as images you could click on to follow links, and followed by html form elements corresponding to the text fields, radio buttons, checkboxes, drop down menus, scrolling lists, etc in the HyperCard stack that you could use in the browser to interactive with live HyperCard pages!

>That was the earliest easiest way that non-programmers and even kids could both not just create graphical web pages, but publish live interactive apps on the web!



The website design alone makes this worth the visit! Takes me back a few years (decades?).

Exactly my thought when I visited it! I feel the design is still simple and aesthetic even today! Just wondering ...

That font alone takes me back!

Simpler times....

Am I missing something or are there zero stacks available on that site at the moment?

This is a request for submissions.

I'd think the person making the request would put a couple of examples up. At the very least it would show if he's put thought into how this eZine is going to work once he does have submissions.


Avoiding the identity politics discussion which will likely ensue here:

HyperCard introduced me to programming, and I'd love to read/edit stacks for purposes of nostalgia. How do people read/edit stacks these days? Preferably on modern hardware/OSes--I don't have an old-school Mac any more.

Zine contents are veeery different from what one might expect based on the domain :P

I have an old HC stack which is basically quite a complex application with calculations, internal state etc. I would like to backward-engineer it and backport it to a Web and/or mobile app -- does anyone know, is there any way to extract the original code in order to get to mathematical functions involved? Thanks!

Have you looked into any of the classic Mac emulators like Mini vMac or Basilisk II? You could run the original stack and get at the code from there.

I have, but they are terribly complicated to get working, especially if you don't have a Mac so can't use StuffIt. :-/

Edit: Are there any companies I could hire to do that for me?

Not aware of any companies, but I do have have several Macs old and new - would be very happy help if you’re just looking to get the code copied out of the cards.

I remember trying to explain what was so cool about HyperCard when it first came out to non-nerds... and then having deja vu years later when I was trying to explain the internet, particularly since a lot of what I was saying about the net was so similar to what I'd said about HyperCard :-).

Lots of interesting similarities to the two.

First box text layout is broken in Firefox 58.0.2 Linux


Works fine for me on Firefox 58.0b14 on Linux

I think it got fixed. Looks good to me now.

> HyperCard has been used by LGBT and other marginalized people to make interactive art representing their experiences.

What an odd thing to say about it. Handwriting, too, has been used by LGBT and other marginalised people to make art representing their experiences. HyperCard has no doubt been used by mainstream people to make interactive art representing their experiences. HyperCard has no doubt been used by marginalised and mainstream people to make business applications.

HyperCard was really neat technology, regardless of who was using it at the time. It enabled some neat stacks, with a pretty neat visual æsthetic.

If you keep reading, the person who designed this site announces herself as a lesbian, so I guess it's an identity at the forefront of her mind.

Nonetheless, yes, when she puts a line like that above the fold, one can't help but assume what she's really going for here is HyperCard stacks specifically relevant to the LGBT experience (what a weird sentence to type this morning). A niche audience within a niche audience. But I guess that's something the internet is great at serving.

... one can't help but assume what she's really going for here is HyperCard stacks specifically relevant to the LGBT experience

Why assume? It says so right there on the page:

"I'm especially interested in seeing work from LGBT people, POC, and other marginalized groups, but everyone is welcome to submit a stack!"

I don't really understand why this would upset anyone. Curated compilations are common in every medium. Of course the curator will prefer to choose content that has a common theme.

I don't think anyone's particularly upset about this. Nonetheless, even broadening the scope to all "marginalized groups," how many HyperCard stacks relating to that will she actually end up getting? I think this truly will be slim pickings.

Zines are tiny on purpose. They're designed to serve a niche of a niche.

If they had wide appeal, they wouldn't be zines!

It's not an odd thing to say at all:


> Programmed by CM Ralph (https://cmralph.com/) in 1989, Caper in the Castro is likely the first LGBT game. It was distributed via BBS, and is 'Charityware', with the designer asking players to donate to the AIDS Charity of their choice.

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