We weren’t insightful enough to recognize what we had inside HyperCard

Reading an old interview with John Sculley, he recalls a number of things but one them struck me was his views on HyperCard. (long a favorite program of mine that’s disappeared into the mists of history)

“As I look back on things that I wished we would have done differently when I was at Apple, I think one of the biggest missed opportunities, and it was on my watch, so I feel responsible and disappointed that we didn’t do more with it, was HyperCard. It was created back in 1987 by Bill Atkinson, Apple’s first software programmer. We could never figure out exactly what it was. We thought it was a prototyping tool. We thought it was a database tool. It was actually used by people as a front-end communications device for TCP/IP to connect the Internet to large Cray computers. We weren’t insightful enough to recognize that what we had inside of HyperCard, essentially, was everything that later was developed so successfully by Tim Berners-Lee with HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). We didn’t call it that. But essentially, we had all that hypertext, radio buttons and linking capability architected in the original HyperCard. In hindsight, I wish Apple had recognized that we had a huge opportunity to go take our user interface culture, and our know-how, and applied it to the Internet. I think we would have had a very different story for Apple during the 1990s. But that, of course, is hindsight.”

3 responses to “We weren’t insightful enough to recognize what we had inside HyperCard

  1. I adored HyperCard, and after it started to fade SuperCard. Too bad it never made the leap to OS X.

    This may be one of the most self-aware comments I have ever seen from Sculley. Think of the might-have-beens he presided over while at Apple. Sigh.

  2. Oh, HyperCard. You are still missed. You don’t know how many times I’ve thought, “See, if I had HyperCard, I could do a rough demo of what I mean!”

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