What Happened to HyperCard 3.0?

Geoff Duncan, writing for TidBITS back in 1998:

Apple already had a scripting language and authoring tool in HyperCard, and it was soon a done deal. HyperCard 3.0 would be re-implemented on top of QuickTime using QuickTime data formats, turning HyperCard 3.0 into an editor for interactive QuickTime movies. Projects authored in HyperCard would inherit all of QuickTime’s color capabilities and would work in any application — and on any platform — that supported QuickTime. The beleaguered, enervated HyperCard group became part of the high-profile, well-funded QuickTime group, and HyperCard aficionados rejoiced.

That HyperCard 3.0 existed and was built entirely on top of QuickTime is not a rumor. Apple was a very different company in the ’90s, and they showed development versions of HyperCard 3.0 in public several times. But then it was killed. Here’s a discussion thread on MacInTouch from 2002 wherein several people claim HyperCard 3.0 was “Steved” — that Jobs killed it because he “thought you could do everything in Cocoa and ProjectBuilder that you could do with HyperCard.”

That’s one explanation. But I’ve also heard stories that Macromedia pressured Apple to kill it — more or less telling Apple that if they shipped HyperCard 3.0, Macromedia would drop support for the Mac OS from Shockwave and, yes, Flash. If any readers out there know more about this story, I’d love to hear it. Confidentiality guaranteed.

Update: Two little birdies with good memories — and, as they say, familiarity with the matter — have written to state that it was killed simply as part of 1998 Apple’s belt-tightening refocusing of the company on core, essential products and technology. And one suggested that HyperCard 3.0 wasn’t nearly as close to being ready to ship as some reports suggested.

Friday, 23 July 2010