HyperCard was an application program and programming tool for Apple Macintosh and Apple IIGS computers, introduced in 1987. It allowed users to create “stacks” of virtual cards containing information, graphics, and interactive elements, connected through a system of hyperlinks. Though no longer in active development, HyperCard was an influential software that paved the way for the development of the World Wide Web and the concept of hypertext.


The phonetics of the keyword “HyperCard” are: /ˈhaɪ.pər.kɑrd/

Key Takeaways

  1. HyperCard was an influential application software and development platform for Apple Macintosh, released in 1987, which allowed users to create and navigate stacks of virtual cards for various purposes like databases, learning tools, and interactive multimedia.
  2. It introduced the concept of HyperText years before the World Wide Web was born and played a crucial role in the early days of the internet. Users could link cards together using buttons, fields, or images to create connections between related information.
  3. HyperCard’s easy-to-learn scripting language, HyperTalk, enabled people with limited programming experience to build custom applications or modify existing stacks, making it a pioneering software for user-friendly, interactive computing.


HyperCard, developed by Apple Computer and launched in 1987, is a significant piece of technology due to its pioneering role in modern information processing, user interface innovations, and software programming.

HyperCard introduced the concept of a metaphorical “stack” of cards, each containing editable multimedia content such as text, images, and sound.

It allowed users to easily create and navigate hyperlinked documents, which served as a precursor to the World Wide Web and hypertext systems that later followed.

Additionally, HyperCard employed a simplified scripting language called HyperTalk, making it accessible for individuals without extensive programming knowledge.

As an influential and groundbreaking tool, HyperCard facilitated the development and widespread use of multimedia applications, interactive software, and the groundwork for a more interactive and interconnected digital world.


HyperCard was a groundbreaking technology that aimed at revolutionizing user interaction with digital data on personal computers. Its main purpose was to enable users to easily create and manipulate interconnected information databases, without the need for extensive technical knowledge or programming skills. A precursor to the World Wide Web, this highly innovative application played an instrumental role in showcasing the potential of intuitive graphics-based user interfaces for organizing and retrieving information.

By democratizing content creation and facilitating intuitive navigation, HyperCard opened up the world of information management to a wide range of users, from students and educators to creatives and professionals. At its core, HyperCard utilized a simple yet effective metaphor of a stack of virtual cards, each of which could contain a variety of multimedia elements, such as text, images, and audio. These cards were organized into hierarchical groups called stacks, which could then be linked to each other, forging a web of interconnected content akin to today’s hyperlinked web pages.

HyperCard’s visually appealing environment made it an ideal platform for creating interactive presentations, educational tools, and even simple computer games. Combined with its built-in scripting language, HyperTalk, it granted ordinary users the ability to harness the power of programming to craft customized applications tailored to their specific needs. Thus, HyperCard laid the foundation for modern human-computer interaction, and its enduring legacy can be observed in contemporary technologies, such as websites and digital multimedia platforms.

Examples of HyperCard

HyperCard, developed by Bill Atkinson and introduced by Apple Computer in 1987, was an innovative program that allowed users to create “stacks” of virtual index cards. These cards had dynamic features like multiple layers, hypertext, navigation, and scripting language (called HyperTalk) which allowed non-programmers to build interactive applications and multimedia platforms. Although Apple discontinued HyperCard in 2004, its impact and legacy can be traced through numerous real-world examples.

Educational applications: Numerous educational institutions and teachers utilized HyperCard to create interactive educational content for various subjects, such as history, science, and mathematics. For example, the Oregon Trail game, an educational computer game, was adapted into a version for HyperCard. The game allowed students to learn about the experiences of 19th-century pioneer life, decision-making, and resource management.

Art exhibitions and multimedia galleries: HyperCard was used as a platform for creating interactive art installations and museum exhibits. For instance, in the early 1990s, San Francisco-based artist Paul Zelevansky used HyperCard to develop “The Case for the Burial of Ancestors: Book One,” an interactive narrative that combined elements of visual, inductive, and sequential art. Furthermore, some museums, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, implemented HyperCard to offer guided tours using interactive multimedia kiosks.

Electronic literature and interactive storytelling: HyperCard provided a platform for interactive storytelling and electronic literature. Writers and artists embraced the system for creating nonlinear narratives and integrating multimedia elements into their work. One notable example is the work of Michael Joyce, who created his groundbreaking interactive fiction piece, “Afternoon, a story,” using the HyperCard-based Storyspace software. This hypertext fiction marked a key moment in the emergence of a new literary genre.

HyperCard FAQ

What is HyperCard?

HyperCard is a software application and development platform created by Bill Atkinson for Apple Macintosh and Apple IIGS computers. It combines a flat-file database, a programming language called HyperTalk, and a graphical user interface (GUI) which enables users to create and modify layouts, scripts, and media content.

When was HyperCard released?

HyperCard was first introduced to the public at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 1987, and was officially released on August 11, 1987, as part of the Macintosh System Software.

How does HyperCard work?

HyperCard uses a system of stack-based organization, with each stack consisting of background layers and individual cards. These cards contain information in the form of text, images, buttons, and other objects. Users can navigate between cards and stacks using hyperlinks, which are often embedded within button objects or scripted actions.

What can I do with HyperCard?

HyperCard can be used for creating various types of applications, including educational tools, interactive multimedia projects, simple games, and more. With its ease of use and powerful scripting capabilities, it became popular with both professionals and hobbyists, allowing them to develop custom applications without extensive programming knowledge.

What happened to HyperCard?

Apple discontinued HyperCard in 2004, though some of its ideas live on in other software products like FileMaker Pro, SuperCard, and LiveCode. While it is no longer officially supported or distributed, there are still some enthusiasts who use and create software for the platform.

Related Technology Terms

  • Stacks
  • Card-based Interface
  • HyperTalk
  • Bill Atkinson
  • Macintosh Computer

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents