Apple's HyperCard was inspired by an acid trip

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Hypercard is inked, like the web.

If you ever look something up in a paper reference, you often get lost because you get distracted by some other entry, or you see something that causes you to look up something else. This happens with dictionaries, and I assume encyclopaedias. Even Leonard Maltin’s movie book. Go through enough “links” and you’ve forgotten where you were going, and unlike the web, there’s no “back” button.

Acid is kind of like that, you follow things and get further away from your “target”. Hearing the Grateful Dead do improvisation is a musical way to explain it, you can see them go this way, then that way and soon way over there. Except they were always able to land back where they were.


An acid trip? That explains a lot.

HyperCard was so creative and flexible no one understood it!


Interesting book on such influences, in the 1960s and '70s:


I wish I was, Right Now!


It seemed to me the universe is in a process of coming alive. Consciousness is blossoming and propagating to colonize the universe, and life on Earth is one of many bright spots in the cosmic birth of consciousness.

But the stars are separated by enormous distances of darkness and vacuum, which may hinder communication between them. I lowered my gaze and saw the street lamps below glowing brightly, each casting a pool of light but surrounded by darkness before the next lamp. As above, so below.

I swear the last few times I did LSD I found that humans had made a kind of primitive communications breakthrough with an alien species, but all of it taking place within a common psychedelic space. It’s like a large cavernous underground psychedelic trans-dimensional chat room utilizing event streams winding through spacetime, unconcerned with the straightforward flow of time. If you are there at the right position in spacetime you can navigate with these “windings” to uncover artifacts and graffiti left by other travelers.

Funny thing is that the psychedelic universe has such symmetry and such ordering and none of it makes sense later on, but when you return to it, the landscape and unfolding of events is so familiar and maybe even comforting.

Disclaimer: hallucinogens are fun. but please use them responsibly.

It had such great flexibility. You could create strange little machines with it.


I listened to that interview with Leo Laporte when it came out a couple of years ago and it’s really great. Bill Atkinson is a very interesting and smart guy.

And finally it is explained why the one class I failed in college was a computer requirement (late 90s) that amounted to… HyperCard.

I wasn’t doing enough acid!


I taught myself Hypercard in Junior High (~1996?). I remember I made this really sweet stack about The Agony and the Ecstasy. At one point in the the stack I made an animation of Michelangelo carving David. I have not thought about that in a long time. Talk about a walk down memory lane.


It occurs to me that surfing the internet is something I’d never done during my paper tasting days, or my tea-brewing days, either.

I must remedy this situation post-haste.


Aren’t we all on some really bad acid right now? Mine’s really long lasting, over 20 months so far.


The original version of Myst was made with HyperCard. Each age had its own stack.

Precursors to Myst, Cosmic Osmo and Manhole:




i fought with HyperCard - trying to understand it - knowing at the time - it was the KEY to cross-referencing and making “living” documents.

I just could not freaking figure out how to link everything and how to program it all.

at the time (LONG ago when I had long hair, fast motorcycles and waitresses thought I was exciting, instead of calling me sir) - I had visions of Hypercard turning into a giant, living encyclopedia. kind of like Wikipedia, but more like the web, in a laptop format (cause IPad was no where close to thought of) but a William Gibson-esque living book, where you could read an article, see a photo, listen to a sound clip… then jump to the NEXT subject.

and I thought HyperCard was the KEY to it. Spent about 3 months deeply entrenched…

woke up one day … got fiercely frustrated, threw away the files and kicked back to play some Cap’n Magneto

never went back to it. — should have. it wasnt my lack of understanding - the compute power just was not there yet.

if today Charles could time travel back and have a beer at the Crown and Anchor Pub with 1989 Charles? I’d take an iPad with wikipedia to blow his mind.

I’d also tell him who he should have married, what motorcycles he should have kept (Munch Mammut, Hesketh Vampyre) and when he should have moved to California (1992 when it was offered)

of course, that’d blow up the time continuum, but it may not - if hypercard really worked out… :slight_smile:


You don’t need to drop a tab to think like that…

“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” - Ada Lovelace


I’m puzzled by this article, no mention of Ted Nelson’s earlier work on hypertext links. The piece makes out that this was a first time unique solution and the precursor to all web browsers. Nelson’s concept for hyperlinking predate HyperCard by almost two decades. Seems like someone had too much acid and now has memory problems.


Did you ever see Hyperland?


That’s because the article in question is about the interview text, and what Bill said. It’s not a history of Hypertext per se, but the raw words of the man who invented it.

LSD… and then we got Apple.


There’s an instrument repair shop near me, and the owner still has an old (System 7 or earlier; pre-Power PC) Macintosh. He keeps it because it runs HyperCards, and that’s what is invoicing runs in. (Surely there’s an emulator out there? But anyway.)

Wait, Mondo 2000 came back?! What’s next, Forced Exposure resumes publishing?


Having grown up in IBM/MS land I never got a chance to play with HyperCard as much as I wanted to. But I have always loved these blocky monochrome graphics from my old Apple //e days, and from reading this book:

Zen and the Art of the Macintosh

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