HyperCard for the Apple II, but not the iPhone

The Escapist News Network is at it again. A recent episode of their satirical news show looked at motion-sensing input devices in video games and how the likes of Microsoft's Project Natal are replacing virtual hands with real ones, allowing users to manipulate digital environments with authentic gestures. At the video's 0:54 mark, ENN lamented the obsolescence with which this technology threatens traditional pointing devices:

ENN & Hypercard

Wave goodbye to the pointy hand.

It's not surprising to see such retro references in ENN, given that the show is produced by a troupe with a name like LoadingReadyRun:

LoadingReadyRun

Photo courtesy Gamebits.

More relevant to the Apple community is ENN's acknowledgement of HyperCard, which has recently been making the real news as well. Apple's capriciousness in allowing some third-party iPhone and iPad apps into the App Store and not others is well-known: One of my favorite podcasts spent several months jumping through Apple's whimsical hoops, while the infamous Baby Shaker app was approved (though later removed). But more damaging is Apple's curtailing of the iPhone as a creative tool. MIT's educational programming environment, Scratch, was denied admission to the App Store. HyperCard, the hypermedia software that originated on the Macintosh and was later ported to the Apple IIGS, is the most recent victim of Apple's barriers — even though earlier this year, Jobs himself pondered, "Something like HyperCard on the iPad? Yes, but someone would have to create it."

I can understand Apple's desire to keep the iPhone user-friendly and free of potential malware and other malicious code. Steve Jobs says that the only digital freedom he's destroying is "Freedom of programs that steal your data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom." But how realistic is this goal? I can't help but think that the more Jobs tightens his grip, the more star systems — er, apps — will slip through his fingers. As a result of the denial of the Scratch app one friend of mine has already sold his iPhone, calling prohibiting children access to educational software "morally reprehensible."

The solution? An Apple II far cheaper than an iPhone or iPad, and kids rarely care what CPU is powering their favorite software, so why not avoid these modern dilemmas by going back to HyperCard's roots? The Apple II version of the program is still available as both a free download and physical disks. Create a retro lab and teach your kids something about both programming and history for a fraction of the price.

In the meantime, check out the full ENN news report after the jump, which has other treats for retrocomputing enthusiasts. At time indices 1:30–2:25, Graham Stark relates the historical pains of being a Mac gamer, while neo-retro Atari commercials debut at 2:57–5:25.

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Escapist News Network's unmarked Apple

The Apple II made a brief visual appearance, though earned no actual mention, in last week's episode of the Escapist News Network, a satirical weekly news report of the electronic entertainment industry. Appearing at time index 2:25 – 2:35, the image accompanied a story that "Developer Splash Damage is claiming that the AI in their upcoming game, Brink, is so advanced, players won't know whether they're playing against a computer or not."


Escapist News Network's Apple II

The Escapist News Network's Apple II

I wasn't confident that the computer pictured was in fact an Apple II. The form factor of the floppy drive is that of a Disk II but lacks the distinctive rainbow Apple logo, as does the computer on which it rests. For additional perspectives, I consulted with Andy Molloy, associate editor of Juiced.GS, who offered, "It sure looks like a[n Apple] II [and a] Disk II to me. Unless it's a Russian clone or something." Dr. Steve Weyhrich of the Apple II History site agreed that the computer looks like a typical Apple II configuration, adding, "I am suspicious that the Apple logo was Photoshopped out of the picture. Or, as Andy said, it might be a foreign clone that didn't bother putting up a logo of any kind."

Consider this similar picture found via a Google image search:

Apple II comparison shot

This is not the same photo as ENN's, but the setup is similar enough to suggest that they are the same computer. What do you think is the source of ENN's vintage computer? Did they grab and edit the first photo they found online? If so, why the coverup? If not, do they in fact have a rare unmarked knockoff?

The full ENN video report is after the jump.

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