Farewell HyperCard

It finally happened. HyperCard is gone.

More than 16 years since its original debut, HyperCard was pulled from Apple’s site towards the end of last month (March 2004). Created by Bill Atkinson of the original Macintosh team, HyperCard was a kind of easy-to-use, visual database system / programming environment that put custom application development into the hands of the average person. It was one of the very first applications to implement the concept of hypertext / hyperlinking / hypermedia. Originally offered freely to all Mac users, HyperCard was embraced by so many and became the vehicle of so much custom development that even the author was taken aback.

Many may recall the popular games by Macintosh development house, Cyan, who used HyperCard to create the landmark titles: The Manhole, Cosmic Osmo, and MYST.

Though many years had passed since Apple last updated HyperCard, version 2.4.1 (from 1998) has been available as a free download on Apple’s site until a few weeks ago. While the product was in great need of modernization, lacking many features that would be obvious additions today, there is no real, equivalent alternative for would-be HyperCard users/developers to turn to, which, I believe, speaks volumes as to the creative genius that went into the product. Many lament the passing of this old friend, and will not let its ride into the sunset go unnoticed.

During its life, HyperCard was ported to the Apple IIgs

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19 Responses to Farewell HyperCard

  1. T Parker says:

    I recall HyperCard most fondly. I spent some time with it using a Mac II that we had in the office. Lots of little stacks people put together that were most interesting. It had a very “intelligent” feel to it. I wish I had gone further down the road of HyperCard development.


  2. James says:

    >version 2.4.1 (from 1998) has been

    >available as a free download on Apple’s

    >site until a few weeks ago.

    Just to be clear, only the *Player* version was available as a free download. The full version sold for around $99.

    Early versions of HyperCard were free, but eventually Apple split it into 2 separate products — a full version that you had to purchase, and a free Player that could play existing stacks but not make new ones.


  3. Tim Peterson says:

    I remember making a great game from Hypercard. Little circle guy with arms and a sword had to go through a maze with traps at the dead ends and a moster to fight if you chose correctly. Rest In Peace, HyperCard

  4. Lorin Rivers says:

    If you miss HyperCard, check out Revolution http://www.runrev.com

  5. Terry McCune says:

    I remember using HyperCard to teach basic programming in a lab of Mac Pluses. I still have, somewhere, some floppies with some of the most creative flip card and “plotted” animations imaginable.

    All the more astounding when you consider that I’m an English teacher who barely knew how to turn on a computer. I attended 2 HyperCard Camps and met the most interesting people you could imagine. Somewhere in a drawer, I have 2 old T-shirts commemorating those “camps”.

    Fond memories, indeed.

  6. Janus says:

    HyperCard isn’t so much extinct as it is evolved: take a look at Runtime Revolution (runrev.com).

    And yes, dinosaurs evolved into birds.

  7. Jerry says:

    SuperCard is the modern HyperCard replacement. Designed for OS X, it can run Hypertalk too. Check it out.

  8. Kevin Steele says:

    Hi all,

    While there may be no link on current pages to the HC player at the Apple site, the files are still available if you have the direct URL.


    Why do I know this? My partner and I have been working on an article about the days of HyperCard (as part of an ongoing personal history of multimedia), when it was free and when a lot of creative energy was directed towards Hypercard. An alpha version of this article is online at http://www.smackerel.net/black_white.html

    BTW, I tested the Apple link before posting today, so as of this moment this information is correct.

    Kevin Steele

  9. Dan Smith says:

    Two blackest moments in HyperCard history: a) Bill Atkinson announces at MacWorld Expo that the format of HyperCard files will be published and cites by number the technical note that will describe them. About six months later the technical note is issued and consists of the single sentence “The HyperCard file format is not available.”

    b) At WWDC 1996, Apple announces and demonstrates HyperCard 3.0, giving the impression that it is nearly finished and close to release. This version of HyperCard produces stacks that require only QuickTime as a runtime environment, meaning that not only does the user not need a copy of HyperCard or HyperCard Player, but that HyperCard 3.0 stackware will run _on any QuickTime-equipped PC_.

    The bungling of HyperCard must be one of Apple’s worst missed opportunities… comparable to Xerox not being able to market the Alto and Star, or Digital never succeeding in making a commercial success of the Alpha chip series.

  10. Dan Smith says:

    Oh, blackest moment b was, of course, not the announcement of HyperCard 3.0, but the mysterious failure of Apple ever to release it.

  11. In a product review written by John Dixon, MacWorld Magazine UK stated:

  12. Malcolm says:

    Hypercard hasn’t really gone as there are still many people using it, its just not supported by Apple any more.

    I develop something called HyperNext and often receive emails wondering if HyperNext can load Hypercard stacks – unfortunately it can’t. Clearly there are still many Hypercard users with stacks they regularly use so Hypercard will be in use for a long time to come.

    By the way, HyperNext is a programming environment for beginners that borrows many ideas from Hypercard. Ideas, such as stacks, cards, an easy to use programming environment and an English-like scripting language. It also has a freeware Player and runs cross-platform on Macintosh OS X, OS 9 and Windows.

  13. Herbert Haubold says:


    I’m not sure whether anyone still looks at this site – but I was anyway glad to find it, since I’m one of those dinosaurs who still love Hypercard. The link posted by Kevin still works!

    Greetings from Vienna,


  14. David says:

    Oh yes Herbert… People still look…

    and I still look for a Hypercard Download… hoping someone will out it…

    Alas the last Mac that Ran Hypercard died on me recently.

    Greetings from Hong Kong,


  15. kaboodle@shaw.ca says:

    I used hypercard to teach ESL to grade school kids. I used texts with useful information for immigrant kids with pictures and photos; made cloze sentences for grammar practice and made little quizes at the end of each unit.
    I loved it but the school was afraid to use it in their computers. How silly is that?

  16. HyperGuy says:

    Since 1990 Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco uses Hypercard to drive the Acoustical Canopy System. 59 dishes can be maneuvered into positions that change the acoustical signature of the hall. The system manages and monitors the operations of the winches and has been in continuos operation for 23 years.

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