Apple to Introduce Unusual Software
By Andrew Polack
The New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 10, 1987 -- Apple Computer Inc. will introduce an unusual database and management information program Tuesday that the company hopes will help it maintain its lead in technology for making computers easy to use.
The new software, known as Hypercard, will enable users of Apple's Macintosh computers to organize information on computerized file cards that can be linked to other file cards in intricate ways. The program will be included for no charge with each Macintosh sold, starting this month.
At a Macintosh trade show in Boston on Tuesday, Apple also plans to introduce an extension of the basic Macintosh operating software that will enable the computer to handle more than one task at a time.
And Apple will introduce a communications device, known as a modem, that will enable the Macintosh to send documents to and from facsimile machines, as well as a letter-quality dot-matrix printer and some new products to help connect a Macintosh to other computers.
Apple said the Hypercard program would allow users to easily organize information, ranging from phone lists to research. The Cupertino, Calif., company predicted that independent software companies would develop information packets and simple programs for Hypercard.
Hypercard is based on hypertext, a concept that has been a focus of research in computer science laboratories for two decades. Hypertext allows a user to jump through a databank in several ways. A person reading a notecard containing information about Abraham Lincoln, for example, might come across a reference to the Civil War. He could immediately jump to a notecard containing information about the Civil War, which might mention slavery. He could then jump to a card about slavery, and so on.
The cards in Hypercard can contain sound and animation as well as text and graphics.
''This may be a bigger breakthrough than the Macintosh was,'' said Bill Atkinson, Apple's star programmer, who spent three years developing Hypercard.
Others who have seen Hypercard praise it, but question how widely it would be used. ''It allows you to quickly develop an application that is unique to your environment,'' said Chris Veal, Western region director of microtechnology for Arthur Young & Company. But he said Hypercard is too unstructured to compete with commercial database programs.
The Hypercard program can be bought by current Macintosh users for $49. However, the program will run only on Macintoshes that contain at least one megabyte, or one million characters, of internal memory.
Copyright 1987 The New York Times Company