Mackerel 1989 to 1997
We created successful pre-Web viral campaigns. Game-like sales apps, sized to fit on floppy diskettes, were shared among colleagues, copied to floppies or uploaded to Bulletin Board Systems by enthusiasts.
Virtual Bubble Wrap, a non-game we made in 1993 to mimic the hypnotic effect of popping bubble wrap, was originally buried as an Easter Egg in the first colour release of our own sales app The Mackerel Stack.
Then the Web happened and we were ready for the launch of Shockwave, the first web plug-in that made web games possible. Virtual Bubble Wrap went online that day, attracting international traffic.
We were surprised by the popularity of the high score competition. A team from Princeton tag-teamed to pop over 200,000 bubbles!
I have an essay work-in progress, Everything We Learned From Virtual Bubble Wrap. I ought to finish that.
There are many more highlights, but another time.
For the record it was a failed merger that sunk the fish. Creatively we were having a good year.
You can read Cory Doctorow’s account of the life and death of Mackerel in Burying the Fish. Type is tiny but Reader View on your phone browser works.
When Multimedia Was Black & White is an expanding text memoir about Apple’s legendary hypermedia platform HyperCard. It is also a memoir of some early Mackerel experiences.