If you’re new to Macs you’re not likely to remember HyperCard and stacks. That’s the domain of longtime Mac users.
Today’s newer Mac users can indulge their fantasy for the past by using SuperCard, what HyperCard would have been were it not for dying.
A little history is probably in order. 21 years or so ago Apple’s Bill Atkinson created a hypermedia system, years before the World Wide Web, which is a modern equivalent of HyperCard.
That so-called hypermedia system consisted of a graphical interface, in lovely black and white on early Macs, on which users created pages, or cards, which could link to one another.
A bunch of cards together became stacks of information, all of which could be linked to. Click a button, and a different card with different information could appear.
Literally, HyperCard was a software erector set and came with buttons, fields, menus, and the ability, in a minimal way, to program functionality into those objects.
Apple never really knew what to do with HyperCard. People today, when they see HyperCard, or the current commercial equivalent, SuperCard, say it looks like the web. It does, but that was then, this is now.
Apple, for whatever reason, let HyperCard die, and almost missed the internet boat. Today, all that’s left of the HyperCard phenomenon are old Mac users who still have their stacks on floppy disks.
For everyone else, there’s SuperCard, which was created in 1989, sold to Aldus years later (Aldus was bought by Adobe).
Honestly, I thought SuperCard was dead, too, but it has bounced around, has a loyal following, and continues to be developed.
What does SuperCard do? It does what HyperCard did 20 years ago, but runs on Mac OS X and has better tools to create interactive presentations, learning aids, custom applications, and projects which require a rich variety of multimedia elements.
Today, SuperCard is used primarily in the creation of presentations, or applications which require user interaction. SuperCard runs on SuperTalk, a scripting program language derived from Apple’s original HyperTalk. Today’s version is all OS X.
The interface is in color and allows for runtime editing, full dialog boxes, and tool palettes. For those who crave a multimedia outlet that is not quite as bad as HTML and CSS, SuperCard also supports text-to-speech, speech recognition, graphics, sound, and, of course, embedded QuickTime movies.
HyperCard brought modern transitions to elements and cards, and SuperCard extends that capability by using the QuickTime transition architecture. In other words, creating presentation pages with transitions is a point and click affair.
SuperCard gives presentation developers tools to create standalone versions of SuperCard applications. Double click and the application or presentation runs on any Mac, even one without SuperCard installed.
Today’s version of SuperCard comes with all kinds of under the hood utilities to extend capability beyond anything envisioned by HyperCard users. Even Apple’s Xcode can be used to build externals from SuperCard.
HyperCard came with new Macs back in the day, though I remember a standalone upgrade version that could be purchased.
Today’s SuperCard is not cheap at $179. If you’re a former (or current; some HyperCard users, like Newton owners, have never given up the ghost) HyperCard owner and can prove ownership, there’s a discount to $129.
What would you do with
HyperCard SuperCard? Convert your old HyperCard stacks to SuperCard and bring your 20 year old applications and presentations into the 21st century.
Or, learn the basics of programming with the rich toolset of scripting languages built-in to SuperCard. Or, simply create modern, updated, media rich presentations and rapid applications.
I have fond memories of HyperCard. 15 years ago my kids, now grown and married and MacBook owners, learned to program multimedia games using HyperCard animation.
Do you remember HyperCard? Do you still have HyperCard ‘stacks’ sitting around? Share the nostalgia in the Comments section below.