Apple's HyperCard was inspired by an acid trip

Pioneering engineer Bill Atkinson was the lead designer/developer of the Apple Lisa graphical user interface, creator of MacPaint and QuickDraw, and part of the original team that developed the Apple Macintosh. In 1985, Atkinson dropped acid and came up with HyperCard, the groundbreaking multimedia authoring program that was really a precursor to the first Web browser. Atkinson recently told Leo Laporte the story of this incredible LSD-fueled eureka moment. From Mondo 2000:

It seemed to me the universe is in a process of coming alive. Consciousness is blossoming and propagating to colonize the universe, and life on Earth is one of many bright spots in the cosmic birth of consciousness....

The street lamps reminded me of bodies of knowledge, gems of discovery and understanding, but separated from each other by distance and different languages. Poets, artists, musicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians, and economists all have separate pools of knowledge, but are hindered from sharing and finding the deeper connections...

Knowledge, it seemed to me, consists of the “How” connections between pieces of information, the cause and effect relationships. How does this action bring about that result. Science is a systematic attempt to discover the “How” connections. Wisdom, it seemed to me, was a step further removed, the bigger perspective of the “Why” connections between pieces of knowledge. Why, for reasons ethical and aesthetic, should we choose one future over another?

I thought if we could encourage sharing of ideas between different areas of knowledge, perhaps more of the bigger picture would emerge, and eventually more wisdom might develop.

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Play it now: Melter

The works of Mason Lindroth have a distinctive look and texture—clay-like blobs and gradients, cranked through a 1990s Macintosh computer screen. The play-doh colors, visual flecks and alien sounds of his latest work, Melter, will take you straight back to the days of Liquid Television on MTV. Read the rest

Hypercard at 25

Matthew Lasar at Ars: "Where does HyperCard fit in the narrative of innovation? It's always tempting to go the condescending route and compare the program to, say, the optical telegraph, which was the magnetic telegraph's largely forgotten predecessor; or to John Logie Baird's mechanical television set, a forerunner to electronic TV; or to the cable/satellite music download experiments of Bill Von Meister, all of which tanked but eventually inspired America Online. But these were all flops. In its two decade life span, HyperCard was enormously successful, and it succeeded all over the world."

P.S. Spot anything interesting about his choice of screenshot? Read the rest