andrew burke





NeuroBlast CyberPunk HyperCard DiskZine

Posted on: 2023-10-11

I've had this tab open for a while and finally had the chance to dig into it. A digital arts / culture group in San Francisco is making and distributing their "zine" as a late 80s/early 90s HyperCard stack.

I gather they did the work on a vintage iMac G3 and then handed it out on floppy disks at the actual event. Notably the iMac didn't have a floppy drive, so I'm guessing they had to use an external or something? And how many people could actually read the physical media? Maybe the kind of people who would be at one of these events, I guess.

Anyhow, you don't have to worry about any of that, as it's available in the Internet Archive, where your browser (even the one on your PHONE!) can run an entire vintage Macintosh in emulation via JavaScript.

An internet archive page hosting an emulated vintage Macintosh

There are instructions and a transcript here.

I was very into HyperCard back at the turn of the 1990s, so it was a real walk down memory lane to play with this. I remember getting Beyond Cyberpunk from an ad in Mondo2000 Magazine, ordering it via Fax directly out of the modem in my PowerBook 170, and getting a box of floppies a while later.

This stack feels like a continuation of Beyond Cyberpunk, with an opening essay describing our present day as the cyberpunk future the early 1990s warned us about. It was especially weird to use it on my 16" MacBook M1 - massively more powerful than anything from that vintage, but still clearly a direct descendent of the same platform.

Much of the stack is devoted to appreciations of the movie Hackers, which I actually didn't like since I was already sort of in that scene and I noticed all the things they got wrong (Sneakers is better on that front but has a different aesthetic). That said, I can appreciate that it inspired whole new generations, and I also agree that the soundtrack was excellent.

A HyperCard appreciation of the Hackers soundtrack

I got my hands on a Macintosh back in the era when they were including the full-featured development version of HyperCard on every machine, and some of the projects I did with it were the start of a lifelong career in digital media and software. After several decades of living on the web, it's easy to miss just how revolutionary and inspirational HyperCard was at the time. This zine can give you a sense of the possibilities.

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