If you used the Internet between 2000-2010, you absolutely used Flash. The entire world used it during that time. Fast forward to 2017 where Adobe announced it would stop supporting Flash by the end of 2020. All of a sudden, here we find ourselves at that moment.
True to their word, Adobe published the official announcement this week. In a month, Flash is dying. Official support ends on December 31, 2020. Taking it a step further, Adobe will block Flash content from even running on January 12, 2021.
The Beginnings Of Flash
Flash began life way back in 1993. Its roots can be traced back to SmartSketch created by FutureWave Software. Initially, the program aimed to let users create two-dimensional graphics using an electronic pen or stylus. Fairly quickly, they added animation capabilities to the software.
With the rise of the Internet, FutureWave separated the animation capabilities into its own program called FutureSplash Animator in 1995. Designers could easily lay out frame-by-frame animations along with basic interactivity on a timeline. These animations could then be embedded on a website using FutureSplash Viewer.
The Rise of Flash
Microsoft and Netscape caused FutureSplash to explode in popularity over a single year. Macromedia then purchased the software in 1996 and shortened the name to the now-familiar Flash. Macromedia took it and improved it dramatically.
The addition of a programming language, ActionScript, opened up a world of possibilities with Flash. Designers went from creating simple animated buttons to building entire websites completely out of Flash. The only HTML on the site would be the embedded viewer.
Developers latched onto this new frontier and pushed its limits to the max. The web received an influx of Flash games, animations, and so much more. Newgrounds and similar sites popped up with a consistent stream of new content.
Can Flash Play Videos?
Later, Flash 6 added full video support. A tiny startup company experimented with a dating site idea that allowed users to upload and stream short videos using Flash. Wisely, they ditched the dating idea and focused solely on video features. Thus, YouTube was born.
At this point, virtually every site asked to install Flash. Browsers began bundling it with their software. With seemingly unlimited potential, Adobe bought Macromedia in 2005 and dubbed the program Adobe Flash.
The Death Of Flash
The smartphone completely changed everything in regards to the way people use computers and the Internet. Initially, Adobe tried to get Flash working on the iPhone, but issues plagued the project. It never quite worked as expected. To make matters worse, HTML5 introduced native video and audio capabilities replacing much of what Flash provided.
If Flash had an autopsy, the cause of death could be listed as a single name: Steve Jobs. In 2010, the iPad loomed on the horizon. Before its release, Steve Jobs published a blog post called Thoughts on Flash. They weren’t happy thoughts. Ultimately, Apple closed the door on Flash and didn’t look back. Web developers began to follow suit to keep up with all those smartphone browsers. YouTube led the way abandoning Flash for HTML5.
Everything went downhill from there. While 2000 through 2010 represented the good years for Flash, the next ten years brought rapid decline. Eventually, Adobe’s 2017 announcement heralded our gathering today. Finally, we say farewell.
So here’s to you, Flash. You brought us YouTube, fancy buttons, overly-animated websites, way too many online games, and much more. You changed the World… Wide… Web. What better legacy could any piece of software have?