HyperCard was a program created for the Mac that hid a database application behind the ability to create various graphic interfaces.  Rich and Frank both played around with HyperCard “stacks” quite a bit.  One day Rich and I were talking about the next issue of Indier Than Thou! because he had a number of paid advertisers (including Silver Girl Records) who were wondering why their checks had been cashed and yet no new issue of the zine had been published.

“I don’t want to print another zine,” he said.  “Printing is expensive, and it’s a pain in the ass.”

“Dude, you print the zine at work, for free.”

“Yeah, but I’m eventually going to get caught.  And more people want it this time.  I’ve already run out of the first issue twice, and had to reprint copies to distribute at Maxwell’s”  The folks at Maxwell’s were letting Rich leave stacks of the zine at the front door, on top of the cigarette machine.

“So what are you going to do?” I asked, “Stop publishing the zine after one issue?”

“Nope.  I’m going to publish it electronically.  I’m going to send out diskettes.  I’m going to make it in HyperCard.”

“It’ll never work,” I said.  “A lot of people don’t have computers.  And even fewer have Macs.”  It was 1994.

“They’ll get them.  Someone will make a program that’ll let you read HyperCard stacks on a Windows machine.”

“Your advertisers are going to be pissed,” I explained.  “They spent money based on a circulation that you gave them – a thousand copies, distributed at See/Hear, Maxwell’s, through your distributors, through the mail.  When they don’t get that, they’ll want their money back.”

“I’m bored with this fucking thing already,” he said.  “I want to do something different with it.”

“You put out ONE ISSUE!” I yelped.  “How can you be bored already?”

“I don’t know, I just am,” he said.  “I’d rather do graphic design.  I like graphic design.  I like designing the zine – I just don’t like putting it together, or making it.”

I was flummoxed.  Rich didn’t go to college – his mom passed away when he was young, and he spent the four years the rest of us were in college just learning things – reading, traveling, playing music, reading, reading and reading.  But without a college degree, there was no way he was going to become a graphic designer.

What sounded like ambition to him seemed like the opposite to me.

But here’s what he did:

He learned how to use HyperCard, and he designed an absolutely ridiculous electronic zine.  When you started it up, you were brought to a cover page.  Then you clicked your mouse on “Table of Contents,” and a menu would appear on your screen.  The menu contained all the articles in the zine.  If you clicked one of the items on the menu, it brought you right to the page that contained that item.

So if I wanted to read my Jenny Toomey interview, I would click my mouse on “Jenny Toomey Interview,” and a new page would open up that contained the interview.  There were pictures on the pages, and the ads were laid right into each page as well.

Sound familiar?

That’s right.  Rich invented the World Wide Web.

Well, not really.  But he was thinking along the same lines as the people who did.  He didn’t envision putting it online, he envisioned distributing a diskette.  On the diskette was a self-extracting archive that would drop the program onto your desktop and then HyperCard would automatically open it up, and run it.

It was really cool.

“Your advertisers are gonna love this,” I said after he showed it to me.

“I just wish there was a way I could put actual music on the zine,” he said.  “There’s no way to make music files sound good enough.  Plus you’d have to send a whole hard drive to each subscriber.”

Early 1994 was fun, man.  You could think of stuff, but there was no way to do it yet.  Today, you think of stuff, put it on eLance, and wake up tomorrow morning with 100 price quotes from people who want to do it for you.

Rich bought a bunch of diskettes and put Indier Than Thou!, volume 2 in the mail to his subscribers and advertisers.  Nobody could read it – nobody had Macs.  It failed miserably.

I still have the issue, on a black diskette.  I can’t open it – HyperCard doesn’t exist anymore.  There’s a World Wide Web now.

~ by Al on March 27, 2009.

4 Responses to “hypercard.”

  1. oh Hypercard lives…. you just need to run it in OS9 or earlier.
    you can try to convert Rich’s stack in Superard for OSX.
    free trial download here.

    nerd nerd nerd… oh you could try sheepshaver if you’d like to emulate OS9 on an intel Mac.

    nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd nerd.

    email me a copy already!

  2. That would require me to have a disk drive, which evidently don’t exist anymore.

    Got one?

  3. sure do,
    i have a usb floppy drive.
    wanna send me the disk and i’ll email it back?

    • Absolutely. I’ll trade you for a nice digital copy of the 7″, now that I have a DAT machine. I’ll dig up the floppy and when I find it I’ll email you for your address.

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