CD Companion to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

In 1989, the Voyager Company note published the first notable commercial CD-ROM, the ‘CD Companion to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.’

The Beethoven Companion linked a superb Vienna Philharmonic recording to an equally superb interactive HyperCard analysis, authored by scholar Robert Winter. Users could follow a complete measure by measure running commentary. The stack also included additional information about Beethoven’s life and work. note

Response was very positive. MacUser magazine called it “a brilliant multimedia experience that blurs the boundary between education and entertainment.” Some people bought expensive CD-ROM drives just to use the program.

Peter Bogdanoff, programmer/designer of this CD-ROM, note wrote to us last year: “I think what especially distinguished this program and many of Voyager’s later products was that the content was developed by an excellent writer, especially for the medium. The immediate, interactive music/audio experience couldn’t, and still can’t, be achieved in any other medium, in the web or in real-life.” note

Voyager Expanded Books

Apple sent Voyager a prototype PowerBook in spring, 1991. The form was very different than desktop computers, and immediately the Voyager team note was imagining electronic books.

In October 1991 the first three Expanded Books were released, for $19.95 each: ‘Alice in Wonderland’, annnotated by Martin Gardner, Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (an inevitable choice), and Michael Crichton’s ‘Jurassic Park’. note

Expanded Books could be easily navigated, searched and annotated. Pages could be marked by dog-earing them. Passages could be hilighted. Support materials, activated by hypertext, added value.

Voyager Co. note produced over 70 Expanded Books. In 1992, they made the Expanded Book Toolkit available. The format was used, by many academics and other authors, for much of the 1990s. note

The Last Days of Black & White

We were starting to get more interactive work, and did a number of projects in black and white. Most memorable was a software catalog note but we also made a few small brochure stacks. note

Colour Macs started to appear, and so did alternatives to HyperCard like Director note and SuperCard. note Some authors still worked in black and white to reach the largest audience of Mac users. note

Our first opportunity to use SuperCard commercially became our last black and white multimedia project. We had a weekend to create a market research questionnaire and database, designed to run on classic Macs at a trade show. note

By this point we were well into the 1990s. For the next few years we would be facing... CD-ROM Madness!

February 2005

I am going to stop tinkering now. When is a hypertext done? note
And please, if you are looking at this in Explorer,
take a look at it in another browser.

June 2018

Online again! This came down when the Smackerel site came down some years ago. I have managed to debug, I believe, thirteen year old code that was no longer working as expected. The text is unchanged except in a few obvious places like this note. Since this article was first published, the 25th anniversary of HyperCard came and went. There is some renewed interest, and many stacks are available at

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