Interview wtth inventor of hypercard Bill Atkinson

Richmond Mathewson richmondmathewson at
Fri Oct 20 13:36:51 EDT 2017

For every single Shakespeare play barring "The Merry Wives of Windsor" 
there is a play that Shakespeare "ripped-off".

So, does that make him a plagiarist and a prize plonker?

No, it doesn't, for the simple reason that the plays he ripped-off had 
crap dialogues and were second or third-rate:

Auld Willie rejigged the dialogues, rejhigged the plots and produced 
marvellous things: he, to coin a phrase

"did make silk purses out of pigs' ears".

So, even if Bill Atkinson either intentionally or unintentionally 
ripped-off IBM's "whatever"
(rather in the same sort of way MetaCard was a rip-off of 

his Hypercard was something rather better,

as the rip-off or HyperCard with a new front-end strapped on the front 
(i.e. LiveCode) is a bigger and
better beast than either Hypercard or MetaCard ever were.

While plagiarism is plagiarism is plagiarism is 100% shameless rip-off,

plagiarism is JUST copying with nothing added or improved on,m

and Hypercard, MetaCard and Revolution/LiveCode are not JUST copies,

in each case there have been both incremental and large leaps which have 
them well beyond what they were supposedly "ripping off".

Oh, and while we're here:

in 1989 I was able to use a Windowing GUI on a BBC Master Compact that 
looked very similar indeed to what Apple was pushing
at that time;

both "ripped off" from IBM.

Later on Microsoft, supposedly, ripped the Windows 95 GUI from Mac, and 
the Linux distros just helped themselves.

Should we care?

No, we shouldn't, because all that will happen is that a load of lawyers 
will get fat through pursuing parasitical
legal cases.

Let's just be VERY GRATEFUL indeed that people such as Bill Atkinson, 
Scott Rossi and Kevin Miller didn't
spend hours agonising over nonsense like this and just got on with the 
job, whether on drugs at the time or not.


On 10/20/17 12:42 am, Tom Glod via use-livecode wrote:
> I wasn't aware that there was objections and controversies when it comes to
> this.... everything has a deeper history than just the surface I guess.....
> Forgive my ignorance on the subject.  Gonna leave this skeleton right where
> it is though.
> On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:48 PM, Mike Kerner via use-livecode <
> use-livecode at> wrote:
>> Wasn't yesterday VisiCalc's birthday?  If ever there was a case of IP
>> ripoff, it was that one.
>> On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:24 PM, Alejandro Tejada via use-livecode <
>> use-livecode at> wrote:
>>> Tom Glod wrote:
>>>> Here is a great interview with Bill..... in which he reveals ....
>>>> among other things...... that when he invented Hypercard he was ....
>>> If you ask Walter Cooke, he answers:
>>> "I too miss HyperCard, but I also used Xerox's Notecards software BEFORE
>>> Bill invented Apple's version for the Macintosh.
>>> Google "Xerox Notecards" to read some history of where the concept and OO
>>> implementation originated. Poor Xerox - they invented so much but
>> couldn't
>>> market their way out of a wet paper bag. A lot of educators were very
>>> impressed with Notecards and wanted at their universities real bad. The
>>> military loved it for buiding real-time visual simulations. I wanted to
>> use
>>> it for building bond trading software. Unfortunately Xerox workstation
>> cost
>>> $30K apiece at that time!
>>> I remember arguing with Andy Hertzfeld at the '87 MacWorld Expo where
>>> HyperCard was announced and demoed on the sexy new Mac II. He was adamant
>>> that HyperCard bore no resemblance to Notecards, but grudgingly agreed
>> that
>>> he HAD seen Notecards at Xerox and knew what it was. Hmmm.."
>> hypercard-gone-for-good
>>> BUT if you ask Paul Heckel, he would say:
>>> "Zoomracks was first..."
>>> And now that I remember Paul Heckel, read about his winning lawsuit
>> against
>>> Apple for patent-infringement:
>>> to-settle-suit.html
>>> Al
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>> On the third day, God put the animals on hold for a few hours,
>>     and did a little diving.
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