Software God Bill Atkinson Demos At Macworld For First Time in 23 Years | Cult of Mac

Software God Bill Atkinson Demos At Macworld For First Time in 23 Years

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Software legend Bill Atkinson presenting his PhotoCard app at Macworld.
Software legend Bill Atkinson presenting his PhotoCard app at Macworld.

SAN FRANCISCO, MACWORLD 2010 — Veteran Mac programmer Bill Atkinson took the stage at Macworld for the first time in 23 years to show off PhotoCard — an app for sending fine-art postcards through the mail.

Written by Atkinson himself (he’s the genius behind early and great Mac software such as QuickDraw, MacPaint and HyperCard), PhotoCard allows you to write a postcard on your iPhone. When you hit send, a beautifully-printed postcard is sent through the mail.

Some postcards made using Bil Atkinson's PhotoCard app.

“I’ve learned a lot color matching and fine art printing,” said Atkinson, who is now a world-renowned nature photographer, having cashed out of the tech industry more than a decade ago.

The $4.99 PhotoCard app uses 150 of Atkinson’s own nature photographs, but users can send their own images (which requires jumping through some hoops to get the best quality. Hint — don’t use iPhoto).

The large format postcards are printed locally using qualified printers (Atkinson’s a stickler for quality — each is meticulously color matched and printed on high-end Indigo digital presses) — and mailed in two business days through the US Postal Service.

“That’s what the big difference is,” he said. “It’s really high quality.”

The system is largely automated, but users are often sloppy with the addresses, misspelling cities and mangling zip codes. Atkinson gets up at 5.30AM each day to fix addresses himself, by hand. “I call it ‘milking the cows’ — it’s my daily chore,” he told the audience to a big laugh.

Each card costs about $1.50 each if users buy a pack of 50 credits for $40 (payments are made through PayPal). Digital postcards sent via email are free. More info about PhotoCard here.

The last time he presented at Macworld was 23 years ago, he said.

On stage with Guy Kawasaki, the ex-Apple evangelist, Atkinson tried to send Kawasaki a card, but had trouble finding his address in his iPhone’s address book.

“Try J-O-B-S,” Kawasaki joked. “We should send it to Steve. Wish you were here!”