Early HyperCard Creativity

The Manhole, Rand and Robyn Miller, © 1987 Cyan Worlds

Putting together my recent post on Interative Alices I searched and searched to find an screenshot of the Voyager Expanded Book The Annotated Alice. Well — I never found one. But, I did come across this great article from Smackerel: When Multimedia was Black & White.

They tell the story of how interactive media evolved on the early Macintosh. I particularly like their discussion of HyperCard (released in 1987), and how it ushered in a wealth of digital creativity. It let people approach the screen in a new, very accessible way — creating not just interfaces and tools, but stories and experiences, too:

Faced with HyperCard’s blank screen, some people immediately imagined scenes. The environment’s integrated graphic tools made it a snap to paint in broad strokes and draw in detail. Button tools, as straightforward as MacPaint, made it easy to link screens. Amanda Goodenough simply did what came naturally to her, and was suddenly creating worlds.

When HyperCard first came out I was in grad school, working on more advanced interactive media research — and so didn’t see much use for it. But later, when I was teaching at Art Center, we used HyperCard and SuperCard to introduce design for computer media to students. It really was amazing how creative people could be with such limited tools. A nice reminder of the balance between advanced research and simple, more accessible, tools.

(Click on the images below to see them larger and animated.)

Inigo Gets Out, Amanda Goodenough, 1987, © Amanda Goodenough
The Manhole, Rand and Robyn Miller, © 1987 Cyan Worlds
Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel, Rand and Robyn Miller, © 1990 Cyan Worlds