Passing Notes
& If Monks Had Macs...

Brian Thomas understood he could use a computer as a powerful communication tool, when he first bought a Mac Plus. He just wasn’t entirely sure how, yet. At first he made fake company memos that satirized his workplace and inspired his coworkers. When he discovered Bill Budge’s note Pinball Construction Set — possibly the first drag and drop interactive toolkit note — he was delighted that it could make standalone games. Thomas used PCS to create pinball games about Reaganomics and other current issues, which he uploaded to BBSes. note

As an enthusiast, Brian Thomas had read an entire book about HyperCard, before he could get his hands on the actual software. When he learned that Macintosh User Groups would receive advance copies, he stalked the president of his local MUG, and showed up at his door for a copy of HyperCard.

That night he authored his first stack, ‘Passing Notes’. note The freeware stack passed from Mac to Mac, attracting attention from HyperCard fans who wanted to contribute, and an encouraging letter from Bill Atkinson.

The ideas in ‘Passing Notes’ are thought provoking, but it is still mostly a linear essay. Brian Thomas now imagined more ambitious explorations of interactive media. In a 1996 interview note Thomas tells how, in 1988, he teamed up with HyperCard scripter Philip A. Mohr, Jr. “to develop an elaborate package of fun and games and serious ideas that we collected in a virtual monastery library.”

‘If Monks and Macs...’ note was given away as ‘Everyware’ (if you like this enough to keep if for yourself, share it with someone else), distributed on disks and uploaded to BBSes. This collection of interactive books, games and art found a home on many a hard drive, and was eventually acknowledged as a landmark of new media.

The black and white version was eventually replaced with a colour version on CD-ROM. With a collective called Rivertext, ‘If Monks had Macs...’ has been maintained, and is available for Mac & Windows.

Page: MMBW04 version: 1.0.1 | 03.01.2005 | Tweaked 06.11.2018