Bill Atkinson and Hypercard

Being the kind of nerd that I am I have a strange bunch of personal heroes. Many of them were at one point involved with Apple in some way. One of those people is Bill Atkinson. He worked on the original Macintosh under Steve Jobs and developed much of the algorithms in GUI design that we take for granted today. Those little rounded corners on all your windows? The circle drawing tool in every drawing program in existence? Those were made possible by his ability to think in abstract ways. Back then computers couldn’t just throw down a million floating point calculations in a millisecond and figure out how to draw a circle in real time. They had to be told how to do it fast and with only little integer based calculations.

One of his greatest contributions was a little program called Hypercard, which is nearing its 25th birthday. Hypercard was, in many ways, a programming language for users, and has arguably never been matched in the years since. Much of how the internet and current web browsers are designed is based off of the old Hypercard structure. Even the puzzle game Myst was just a cleverly designed Hypercard stack.

I can’t do it justice but Matthew Lasar can.

One other reason Bill Atkinson is one of my heroes. After he left Apple, he became a photographer.

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