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The Death of HyperCard?


Many of us in the Mac community first cut our programming teeth on HyperCard. I not only remember how delighted I was when I built my first stack, but I also enjoyed collecting the stacks of others. In a sense, my floppy disks of HyperCard stacks provided the same thrill as baseball cards had years earlier.

Every now and then I still open a stack. I'm always impressed with just how cool of an environment HyperCard is. Much better than many of the current tools in the computing world that are thriving.

But HyperCard might be in danger of going the way of the dinosaur. With the launch of Mac OS X, unless HyperCard is "carbonized," it could be the beginning of the end.

There's a group dedicated to the use of HyperCard,The International HyperCard Users Group (iHUG), that is so concerned about the possible demise of this application that they rented booth space at the last Macworld to raise awareness. To drive home their position, they've put together a sampling of compelling responses to a recent "Why I Use HyperCard" online survey.

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Not too long ago, I received an e-mail from Steve Collins, iHUG spokesperson. You probably have one yourself buried deep in your mailbox too. This is an excerpt from Steve's note:

"This week Apple will release OS X. This big step forward will needlessly mark the beginning of the end for HyperCard, the beloved and widely used software development application for Macintosh. More important than the loss of thousands of creations that rely on HyperCard is the disappointment to come for the thousands of people and institutions that rely directly and indirectly on HyperCard for everything from managing home gardening to tracking commercial jet maintenance.

"But this course of obsolescence can be easily and quickly changed. With the help of just one person at Apple, HyperCard can be carbonized in six months or less; allowing it to run directly on OS X and thereby continue to thrive in the future. This is not a money or resource issue for Apple. It's an issue of getting HyperCard the attention it needs."

Steve Collins goes on to say that he wants HyperCard supporters to write Steve Jobs in hope that through an executive order of sorts, the venerable application can be saved. Personally, I'm not so sure this is the route to go. But part of me agrees it would be a shame to see HyperCard fade at the dawn of the new Mac OS.

What are your thoughts? If you'd like to learn a little more about iHUG, take a look at their website.

If you have an opinion about this situation, or a suggestion about how to help HyperCard survive, please submit a Talk Back comment below. You do have to register with O'Reilly to comment, but it only takes a minute. And by doing so you can participate in all of our Talk Backs and forums. I'd really like to hear your opinion.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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