High school was a time of self discovery and personal enrichment. Class projects allowed me to tap into my sense of creativity and learn to wield my muse. One project, an assignment requiring students to present on a person of influence, caused my creative energy to reach its highest potential. Other students turned to the typical means of presenting their projects on presentation board with pasted cut-outs and hand drawn illustrations. I had an interest to go a different way. There was a Macintosh Performa 5200 in the class, and I decided to look to it for help. It was on that machine that I discovered an application that would excite me in ways that no other application of that time could have. That application was HyperCard.
HyperCard was software that allowed anyone, including a high school student, to put together powerful presentations. It had user interface elements, built in search, and media controls. I was able to put together a beautiful hyper stack about my favorite singer at the time, Aaliyah. I used the built in scripting language, HyperTalk, to customize the user experience for those who viewed my stack. I was able to create an impressive presentation. Not only had I earned an A on the assignment, but it also encouraged the professor to incorporate HyperCard as tool for his future assignments.
While The World Wide Web was around in 1995, it had not been easily accessible the way that HyperCard had been. I continued to iterate on my presentation, long after the assignment was collected and graded, it was simply too much fun to leave alone. HyperCard allowed me to find my calling. I loved making interfaces. I enjoyed scripting. It was enough to encourage me to learn how to do web development. Nearly one year later, I had launched my very first web site, aptly named, Steve’s Aaliyah Site. My site had all the bells and whistles of a webpage from the late 90’s… blinking text, animated gifs, and bitmap images that took slightly too long to load on a 14.4k modem. Still, I learned.
Take a look at the the articles linked with this post and join me on a nostalgic look back at the software that led me to my career in web development.