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Programming Technology (Apple) IT Technology

HyperCard Comes Back From the Dead to the Web 117

Posted by timothy
from the in-many-ways-it-never-really-went-away dept.
TedCHoward writes "On the heels of the recent mention of HyperCard comes the launch of a brand new site called TileStack. Cnet's Webware blog writes, 'The idea behind it is to bring old HyperCard stacks back to life by putting them on the Web, meaning you can take some of those long lost creations from the late '80s and early '90s and make them working Web apps. You simply upload them to TileStack's servers and they'll be converted and hosted for just you or the entire world to use once again... Since the service runs without Flash... TileStack is perfect for the iPhone and other devices that run on the Web.' They also have a video showing the upload process."
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HyperCard Comes Back From the Dead to the Web

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  • Freaky. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:30PM (#23696149) Homepage
    Wow, like 10 minutes ago i was looking for a spare phone in this box and found a case of floppy disks from my middle school computer class. If the disks are good i think there are a couple of hypercard stacks on there... Weird.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Same here. I was just talking with my wife about this programmable slideshow program we used in highschool. Although i'm sure ours ran on DOS. Although the basic premise of the program seems quite similar. I remember doing an x-wing fighter animation in highschool. I even had music and everything. Apart from LOGO, it was probably my first exposure to programming.
      • Re:Freaky. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pimpimpim (811140) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:19PM (#23697445)
        As someone who used HyperCard as a 10-12 year old, without using the manual ever, I realize only now that I never realized that by using HyperCard I was actually programming. The program must have been made in such a way that you could perform pretty complex operations with it, without even knowing that what you are doing is complex.

        Years later I tried to do similar simple interactive animations for adobe flash. It faced me with multitudes of concepts, each with their own drop-down menus and rules, before I could even start drawing something. Maybe it was more easy as a child because I had no idea of what I was doing, but more likely HyperCard was just designed very elegantly.

        • by pompomtom (90200)
          Thank fuck you never got stuck with a CLI.
          • by pimpimpim (811140)
            Actually, I am a CLI person now, reading mail with pine, using bitlbee to chat on msn over irc. (ok, so those are interactive, but you get the point). All open in a screen session, so I can open it in a second from everywhere where I can open an ssh connection.

            Paradoxically, I do that for the same reason that I like Hypercard: I want to use the tool that is the fastest and easiest way to do something. I use latex for large text/equations documents, but powerpoint for presentations, because the outlining

        • Yes, Hypercard was simply well-engineered so that anyone from a child to a high-end programmer (familiar with scripts, etc.) could use it from day 1 (more or less). I always like Hypercard. I was sorry to see it go. Newer program have been created that do similar things, but generally not with the elegant ease of Hypercard.

          With Hypercard, you could do just about anything from presentations to simple adventure games. It was quite robust.

          ~Michael
  • by marvelouspatric (1112793) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:39PM (#23696235) Homepage Journal
    i clicked the links, and it's a good chance i'm just an idiot, but I couldn't tell if there was going to be anyway to create new stacks. The beauty of hypercard, from what I recall, was that it had a pretty simple interface for creating the stacks. I remember doing an entire multimedia presentation with hypercard back in highschool in the 90s. while everyone else did powerpoint and thought the clip art was cool, i was making stuff move using sound and embedding quicktime video. granted, all that is easy (easier?) to do now, but back then, it was cool stuff.
    • by PHPNerd (1039992) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:44PM (#23696283) Homepage
      Oh yes. You can create new stacks. I was in the beta program, and it was really easy to use too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by David Hume (200499)

      i clicked the links, and it's a good chance i'm just an idiot, but I couldn't tell if there was going to be anyway to create new stacks. The beauty of hypercard, from what I recall, was that it had a pretty simple interface for creating the stacks. I remember doing an entire multimedia presentation with hypercard back in highschool in the 90s. while everyone else did powerpoint and thought the clip art was cool, i was making stuff move using sound and embedding quicktime video. granted, all that is easy (ea

    • by quonsar (61695)
      that's marvelous, patric...
  • 3.5 inch floppy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jamesl (106902) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:56PM (#23696339)
    Now all I need is a machine that can read a 3.5 inch floppy.
    • by J'ai Friedpork (1293672) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:06PM (#23696417) Homepage
      At least it'll be easier than trying to use a 5.25" floppy. (Or god forbid, one of those old 8" floppies...)
      • by McGiraf (196030)
        Pfff, when I was a kid we carved our programs on 78rpms records with our nails.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          When I was a kid we drew out screens from Super Mario Land onto little hand-drawn cardboard Gameboys. Oh, did we ever envy those with the IMB PCs, complete with the gramophone drive attachment. But alas, our meager salaries from working in the Atari pixel mines just wasn't enough back then. (To say nothing of that unlucky soul who was accidentally buried with the unsold copies of ET. Alas, poor Honorable Timothy.)

          Wait, we were talking about HyperCard?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        B:\ FTW!
      • by ari_j (90255)
        I recently tried to put an old 5-1/2" drive in my parents' home computer so that they could copy their old diskettes. As it turns out, modern PC motherboards only support at most one floppy drive, so it would have cost them their actually-useful 3-1/2" drive.

        There is actually a market for this. Anyone know a good provider?
        • What kind of kid are you, leaving your poor parents to use diskettes when there are flash drives available for pennies?

          I bet you're just waiting for the drive to fail so Mom will have some deep fried grits ready for your visit.

          • by ari_j (90255)
            Wrong backwoods - we're not grits people up here in the Midwest. ;)

            No, for whatever reason my dad prefers floppy disks. He is slowly getting used to flash drives for Quicken backups and the like, though. However, the desire to back up all of his 5-1/2" diskettes onto a CD (with room to spare, for sure!) still exists.
        • by British (51765)
          Can't you buy them a USB 3.5 inch drive, then use the 5.25 drive on the mobo connector?

          I'm honestly surprised floppy drive connectors still exist on today's motherboards. Then again, parallel ports on a mobo lasted forever, and I can't remember the last time I even used it.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            Don't worry, you can still get parallel ports [tigerdirect.ca] and 9-pin serial. That board has serial, parallel, usb, IEEE 1394, PS2, RJ45, and a bunch of audio connectors. That has technology from the 1980's right up until the latest technology. Sadly, I think the only common port it is missing is ESATA.
        • by bobbozzo (622815)
          Check your cabling, and possibly jumpers on the drives. A floppy cable should have a twist near the A: drive connector.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If you don't have a twist, just fuck with the jumper settings. If you bought the $4.99 and not the $2.99 floppy drive, then you probably have enough jumpers to set the drive to any of the four IDs which it supports.

            Some PC floppy controllers can actually recognize more than two IDs. I believe the PC-1s and such had a controller which would do it but you had to patch the BIOS and maybe DOS too...

            • by ari_j (90255)
              I had the cable right. I remember a thing or two from the 90's, folks. I even triple-checked the cabling with as much googling as I could stand. The BIOS simply does not support more than one floppy drive.

              The suggestion someone else posted regarding a USB 3.5" drive is the best, and I wish I could have found such a drive for my parents. I may suggest it the next time I visit them.
      • by Tycho (11893)
        Reading any high density (1.44MB) 3.5" floppy disks shouldn't be too hard. Assuming one has a method of reading the HFS file system, like the HFS module in Linux, it would be possible with any old USB or standard internal PC floppy. However, if merging the data and resource forks of a HyperCard stack into a flat file is necessary, I wish you good luck. Otherwise, scrounging up an old Mac with a floppy drive may be the only option. Old 800KB Mac floppies cannot be read by standard PC floppy drives becaus
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I remember playing around with Basilisk [cebix.net] at one point, and seem to remember there being a utility to read HFS file system disks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          You can download System 7.5.3 [apple.com] directly from apple. Wow, 19 disks. Vista only takes 1 disc. And they say Vista is bloated.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          I have a Mac Classic or Plus or something with a Radius Accelerator and a superdrive (Working) a tray-loading Apple CDROM (working) an Asante appletalk to ethertalk bridge (untested but I have a SCSI ZIP I can use instead) and, I believe, System 6.0.7. About the only thing I'm not sure I have is Hypercard... If someone has an amazing stack they need converted, I'm sure I could help out. I also have a 3com ethernet card for a Mac SE, if anyone needs one of those :P
    • Re:3.5 inch floppy (Score:5, Informative)

      by david.given (6740) <dgNO@SPAMcowlark.com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:54PM (#23696677) Homepage Journal

      Now all I need is a machine that can read a 3.5 inch floppy.

      It's worse than that. Apple floppy disks were written with constant linear velocity --- i.e., as the head moves towards the centre of the disk, the rotation speed goes up so that the magnetic medium still passes the head at the same velocity.

      PCs, and therefore all modern hardware, use constant angular velocity floppy disks --- the disk spins at a constant speed, so that the speed at which the magnetic medium passes the head varies depending where the head is. Yes, this is clearly a bad idea, but that's PCs for you.

      This means that no modern hardware can read old Apple floppy disks. It's just not possible. You'll need an old Macintosh floppy drive and (probably) an old Macintosh floppy drive controller to plug it into, which basically means you need an old Macintosh. You still have yours, right? Right?

      Have fun!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tepples (727027)

        Apple floppy disks were written with constant linear velocity --- i.e., as the head moves towards the centre of the disk, the rotation speed goes up so that the magnetic medium still passes the head at the same velocity.
        Actually, the Apple 400K and 800K drives used zone CAV [wikipedia.org]. Modern PC hard drives, magneto-optical drives, and DVD-RAM drives also use zone CAV.
      • You'll need an old Macintosh floppy drive and (probably) an old Macintosh floppy drive controller to plug it into, which basically means you need an old Macintosh. You still have yours, right? Right?
        Yep, right. Got an Apple Performa sitting right next to my IBM XT. You mean you don't keep vintage computer hardware around?
        • by david.given (6740)

          Yep, right. Got an Apple Performa sitting right next to my IBM XT. You mean you don't keep vintage computer hardware around?

          Way too much of it.

          (Apple Perfoma? Pah. I have an Acorn Risc PC sitting next to my computer desk! Currently used, er, to hold up my company laptop. But it boots and everything.)

          • Ahh, reminds me how I supported my feet with a SparcStation LX under the table and my monitor with a VAX 4000... :o)
            • by david.given (6740)

              Ahh, reminds me how I supported my feet with a SparcStation LX under the table and my monitor with a VAX 4000... :o)

              Yeah, the old stuff is really cool and historic, but it's not precisely useful.

              Unless you have a Performa and need to read some old Macintosh floppies, of course.

              • by haaz (3346)

                Ahh, reminds me how I supported my feet with a SparcStation LX under the table and my monitor with a VAX 4000... :o)

                Yeah, the old stuff is really cool and historic, but it's not precisely useful.

                Unless you have a Performa and need to read some old Macintosh floppies, of course.

                At last, an actual use for a Performa!
          • bah.. i've still got a (couple of) working Apple ][es, plus an original Macintosh, a powermac 7200, and a G3 beige tower.
            times like these make me wish i never sold my Performa 600CD. It was special because it had a CD-ROM. A 2X CD-ROM! Man, I was pimpin'!
      • by dsmall (933970) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @12:55PM (#23701189)

              The high density Apple floppies (1.44, etc) can be moved back and forth between PC's and Apples.

              The lower density Apple floppies used GCR recording, much like the Apple ][ floppies. Hell, in fact, it was exactly like the Apple floppies, except that the number of sectors per track varied. Apple sped up/slowed down the drive motor while doing disk I/O.

              I found out you could read these disks on a standard PC 300 RPM drive with a custom disk controller of about five chips. No speed changing. The disk controller changed its disk I/O frequency. The product we sold to do this (and to run Mac software on the 68000 Atari ST platform) was called "Spectre GCR"), and yep, it would boot Apple floppies, or hard disks, right out of the box.

              (This did not make Apple happy.)

              The only significant bugs that showed up were noise from the switching power supply near the frequency of the outer tracks and impedance mismatch on the read-data line.

              If I had to read Mac 400/800 floppies these days, I'd pick up a Mac on eBay with the "Super Woz Integrated Machine" that could read both formats, and bring the data over.

              All of this taught me that Steve Wozniak was one smart, smart guy. His low chip, very elegant solution was wonderful to learn. Writing the formatter was a bitch, yes ... but it was wonderful to learn.

              One of the problems with the DMCA is that people learn so much about coding by looking at other people's coding. Same for hardware design. I learned a great deal about 68000 coding from Andy Hertzfeld's beautiful Macintosh coding. I learned a great deal about elegant hardware design from John Ridges, who is possibly the best overall hardware and software person I've ever met.

              Thanks,
              David Small

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jgertzen (975712)
      Actually they seem to be willing to help people out who don't have 3.5 floppies any more. Per their FAQ "Is there anything I can do with stacks I have on old floppy disks?" [tilestack.com]

      "If you have some old HyperCard stacks lying around on floppy disks that you can't read because you either don't have a computer with a floppy drive, then we'll gladly do our best to import them on our vintage hardware here in CodeFlare labs."

      ...just send your floppies in appropriate packaging to...

      Their mailing address is in the
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by TedCHoward (920331)
      Actually, you can mail your floppies to TileStack, and they will upload them for you. From the faq [tilestack.com]:

      Send your floppies in appropriate packaging to:
      CodeFlare
      5919 Greenville #335
      Dallas, TX 75206-1906
    • by rthille (8526)
      Before I sold my PowerMac G3 (desktop) on Craigslist, I spent a couple of days stuffing all the floppies I had into it, making disk images... Now that classic is gone, I'm not sure any of them are runnable, much less useful, but the amount they take up is less than a couple of songs in AppleLossless.
  • Could someone please tell me what in the world Hypercards are?
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:39PM (#23696595)
      HyperCard [wikipedia.org] is an old application that allowed you to create files that were "stacks" of cards that contained text, media, etc and linked to one another. Consider each card to be a Web page and each stack to be a Web site, Intranet, or Web app rolled up into a single file. This all predated the Web, of course, but was pretty powerful and had a really, really easy development tool that could be used by complete novices.

      A lot of early games, especially choose your own adventure style ones, as well as multimedia presentations, and educational tools were created as HyperCard stacks. This Web site is just allowing people to dig them up, dust them off, and play with them again (without paying for one of the commercial HyperCard programs still out there, or using a VM).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by McDutchie (151611)

        A lot of early games, especially choose your own adventure style ones, as well as multimedia presentations, and educational tools were created as HyperCard stacks.

        What's more, even the original Myst was a set of HyperCard stacks [wikipedia.org].

      • by Mindcry (596198)
        I remember even hooking up a hypercard stack to run a laser disc player (click this button to play from x:xx to y:yy) and using it help with animation (it did rotation and movement of images very well) way back in 1994. looking back, it really was an amazing program.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Its inventor claims that it was "almost" the World Wide Web, several years before the web. Except for minor details, it was local to one PC and lacked networking and collaboration features.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        He says that he envisioned the web as a giant networked HyperCard Stack.
      • by Budenny (888916)
        Hypercard was in concept the exact opposite of the web.

        It was written in a proprietary language, it was only accessible via an application that would run on just one, proprietary, operating system, and this operating system would only run on hardware from one particular manufacturer. Although it was innovative, it was doomed for this reason. It was thought of by Apple as a tool to sell hardware (like everything else they did). The essence of the web was and is that it doesn't matter who supplies the hard
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by iamacat (583406)

          It was written in a proprietary language, it was only accessible via an application that would run on just one, proprietary, operating system, and this operating system would only run on hardware from one particular manufacturer.
          So basically it was like IE6-based world wide web around 5 years ago?
          • by Budenny (888916)
            No, it was a lot worse. 5 years ago there were alternatives to IE6 to access the Web, and they ran on different operating systems, and in addition, earlier versions of IE would run on Macs. Not only that, but IE would run on hardware made by any number of companies.

            Hypercard was what MS would probably have liked - that is, pages which could only be written on Windows, and accessed by Windows clients, and served from Windows servers. But it went one step further - all this, and only running on MS branded
      • by mdwh2 (535323)
        In what way? The other comment points out how it differs in many fundamental respects, so the only thing I see in common is things like hyperlinks, which existed years before the Web, and was available on various platforms (e.g., the Amiga's Amigaguide).
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:48PM (#23696635) Homepage

      Could someone please tell me what in the world Hypercards are?

      Have you accepted Google [wikipedia.org] as your personal Search Engine.

      Salvation is at hand!

  • It says that new stacks must be uploaded in MacBinary format or something. Can you get a Mac these days that will read 3.5/5.25/8" floppies?
    • You can probably get a USB floppy drive that can read all the floppies...
    • It wants MacBinary because Apache clobbers resource forks. I spent about an hour trying to find out why a program I was transferring from my mac to an old OS9 computer was coming out unable to run. HyperCard, like many old Mac formats, is mostly in the resource fork.
  • Radical Castle! Bring on the vorpal bunny.
    • by welkin23 (1168399)
      Despite a reference to Radical Castle being amazing in itself, I'm pretty sure the game was created with World Builder--which was a step or two up from HyperCard.
  • i saw more kids get brave and smart on things like logo and hypercard, especially hypercard as you could get an original creation with creamy UI goodness, it did something useful and immediate and creative. the ones who were convinced mpw / pascal was the way to go would sit there like we had just given them a pile of planks and two wagon wheel hoops, waving as we sped off in our trusty gti. don't know if i'm willing to risk uploading a entire voyager expanded book... i have every one of them and nothing
    • Manhole was my favorite Hypercard game.
      • I remember playing manhole as a child when my father would lug home his Mac from work every night. A really great and engaging world in retrospect. I had forgotten the name until now. I found it by looking on google for hypercard adventure, which eventually led me to this page about hypercard stacks [smackerel.net] that is amusingly displayed to look like an old hypercard stack itself.
      • I still have Manhole and Cosmic Cosmo on CD. :)
      • by altek (119814)
        I'm too afraid to google that name to find out what the game was.
    • by dpilot (134227)
      I have "Manhole" on 5.25" disks, and would enjoy finding some way to run it on modern hardware/software, preferably under Linux. By the time I thought to try searching, the CD version had come and gone.
      • by jpellino (202698)
        5" floppies? running on what hardware?
        • by dpilot (134227)
          We bought The Manhole on a trip to MicroCenter in Columbus, OH. I think my son, now 22, was 4 at the time, which would have made it around 1990. At that time I probably would have been using my XT-286 with a Video7 FastWrite VGA, though it's possible that I might have traded out the motherboard for something faster by then. It seemed like I was buying a hardware upgrade a year back in those days, so I'd probably already moved from 20G to 40G, and maybe had both after upgrading the power supply. Oh yeah,
  • Here's its ancestor - quite nice really. http://www.runrev.com/ [runrev.com]
  • Don't tell me - I can't download and use their software on my web server; I have to let them host my private data (private meaning, I have to trust them with it).

    That's pretty impressive, figuring out how to tether a decades-old application that was designed to run entirely on the user's equipment.

    I suppose you could just email the stack to those you really wanted to share it with. But where would they get the stack interpreter?
  • HyperCard had a really cool syntax. For example to make a button that you could drag around, you would just double click it in edit mode and enter the following script:

    on mouseDown
            repeat while the mouse is down
                    set the location of me to the mouseloc
    end mouseDown

    (not case sensitive)
    • by nuzak (959558) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:25PM (#23697729) Journal
      The problem with HyperTalk/AppleScript is that they still have rigid syntax that's intolerant of ambiguity, but now it's merely verbose and expressed in a language where you might expect some constructions to work, but they don't, because they're English, not Hypertalk.

      A perfect example is "the location of me". You can't say "my location", which is a far more common idiom.

      Of course the saving grace of HyperTalk was that it was also a pretty darn good language for its time, aside from the syntax.
      • by FLEB (312391)
        I never got into HyperCard, but working with AppleScript, at a time after I'd been using a couple other programming languages, I just found it far too long-winded, and-- as you mentioned-- rigidly so. After the fifth or sixth completely pointless "the" or "of the", I pretty much scrapped it, short of tweaking recorded macros.

        Recently, I've been working with Inform 7 [inform-fiction.org], a rather recent language for writing text-adventures. Granted, it does have the competitive advantage of being a narrow-purpose language (kind
    • by objekt (232270)
      ;-)

      on mouseStillDown
            set the location of me to the mouseloc
      end mouseStillDown

  • I seem to remember the original Myst being Hypercard based.
  • Maybe it was the most successful implementation of a HyperText before the Web came along. People built totally diverse applications and didn't even know what they were doing. Heck, it was impossible to explain what HyperCard to someone who hadn't seen it!
  • Though I find it an innovative way to revive your old stack and share it on the web, I can't help but wonder about security, privacy and copyright. Meanwhile, Runtime Revolution have just announced their revamped web strategy, and demoed a Flash-like browser plugin - which means you don't have to install any special software on your server. Just create your stack on MacOSX, Windows or Linux and then deploy it for the web. For a short introduction of this plugin-to-come: http://runrev.com/newsletter/may/issu [runrev.com]
  • Revolution - http://www.mirye.com/ [mirye.com] already has a CGI system, and a browser plugin is on its way.
  • I miss those stupid walk-around games. They were.... different, if frustrating.
  • The entry page used in the video demo was http [slashdot.org]:. There was no indicator (that I could see) that the login process was secured in that http: page. Maybe there is an indicator and I'm just looking in the wrong place because of my limited exposure to Firefox in an OSX environment.

    If not, is there any reason that an html-based authentication process not by secured by SSL (i.e. https) in this day and age? The other day I used a yahoo.ca account that I've kept around for years as a throwaway address, and I sa

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