Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hypercard. Data mastery is very personal.

One more Hypercard post...

When we started our first business in the 70s we were very excited to get a few orders per day. When orders started coming in faster and faster we knew we had to control our data or forget about surviving, let alone growing.

We built our first digital business management tools on a second-hand Kaypro computer. I still have the 5 1/4" floppy disk we used to run our accounting on that system.

When our kids were born, they automatically joined our family business enterprise.

Anne was five years old in 1987 when we got our first Macintosh and our first database program, Hypercard. She had watched her Mom, (my wife and business partner Mary) organize all the information it required to manage our small business. Anne also understood very early that helping control that data made Mom happier. At the time most of the Macintosh programs started with 'Mac', as in MacPaint, and MacWrite. When we wrote our own database for our business (in Hypercard), Anne named it MacMom.

The idea of being able to control your own computer interface so that you could manage what specific information and outcomes you wanted out of your computer was a powerful new capability that seemed immeasurably valuable at the time. And it was easy, thanks to Bill Atkinson who created Hypercard, and the good folks at Apple.

Anne wrote a program in Hypercard when she was only six years old to teach her two year old sister Eileen how to use a mouse - and it worked perfectly.

Bill Atkinson gave a presentation at the 2011 MacWorld convention about the future of computing and he circled right back to this idea of controlling data in the most meaningful, most personal ways. This was from that talk:

"Atkinson believes that the killer app of mobile telephony will not be augmented reality or gestural interfaces or anything like that. Rather it will be earpiece that connects users to a virtual digital assistant who lives in the cloud and will remember the name of the restaurant where you had dinner last time you were in the city or the name of a vaguely familiar looking acquaintance approaching with his hand extended."

"I'm about to turn 60," Atkinson says, "and most of my memories reside in the brain of my wife."

When I repeat this quote, my family nods and agrees.

Once upon a time, MacMom, Hypercard, and Bill Atkinson made data control happen for our family and our small business. We could do it in real time. Not yet in the cloud, but in our family business. Amazing stuff then. Amazing possibilities for the future.

Hypercard lesson #2:

You do data control for yourself. It's not part of a business plan. It's the core of a sustainable business life.

Sustainable = repeatable. Repeatable = data control.

Bill Atkinson was an important figure in the early days of Apple, and the designer of the world's first popular hypermedia program, Hypercard. He currently operates a wonderful photography enterprise. My friend Larry met him at a recent computing conference and scored the autograph pictured above after sharing our MacMom story with Bill. Thanks Larry!

Fortune Magazine blog - Apple 2.0 Covering the business that Steve Jobs built, quoting Bill Atkinson on the future of computing.

Bill Atkinson nature photography.

Kaypro information at Wikipedia

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