[OT}] Hypercard and an uneasy read.

Peter Alcibiades palcibiades-first at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Dec 3 02:16:39 EST 2011

Yes, Jobs killed a lot of things that were losing money - but that does not
explain why Apple would not open-source Hypercard if it didn't want to
support it. It was possible to stop the losses without killing the product,
but he chose not to. There had to be a reason for that.

I recall calling on Cupertino back in the days before Jobs' return.  There
was an atmosphere of blissful unrealism about the whole place.  They were
caught in the mindset that somewhere there was a killer app which would be
Mac only, which everyone would buy macs to get.  Project after project was
Mac only, project after project had the lock-in mindset at heart, the hidden
assumption being that once people were hooked on this they would never be
able to leave Apple.  But of course, these were reasons, like the locked in
hardware, why you would leave Apple not why you would stay.  At some point
you'd see where all this was going and decide to get out before it was too

The pinnacle of this was e-World.  They had still not abandoned the idea of
an on-line service a la Compuserve at a time when it was obviously dead.  I
recall our team saying to them in a bemused way that of course it had to run
on Windows, and of course it had to be Internet.  When they closed they
called us up and said ruefully that we had been right.

Market share was a very strange topic during those days, and indeed for some
years after.  The party line was always that it was (a) of no importance (b)
far higher than reported by the consultants.  I recall the pinnacle of this
being the claim that Apple actually had twice the share reported, because
every sale was hardware and OS, so you should simply double the percentages. 
This was on Roughly Drafted.  Apple's worst enemy at that time was its
fanatical user base, and its greatest sin was the way it catered to ane
encouraged them as the water level rose.

I heard a number of different explanations of why they killed HC rather than
open source it, the most plausible being that the code was unmaintainable. 
Don't know.  I also seem to recall reading in Sculley's book how excited he
was by Hypercard.  Or is that a false memory?  If its right, he would
certainly have discussed it with Jobs, so the claim that on his return he
didn't even know what it was must be mistaken.


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