The main reason for chronicling this is to underscore how fickle the internet can be; Flash was no joke one of the coolest, “hottest” technologies that companies were built around and almost in an instant, it went away. This is not to say that any technology that we learn about will be meaningless, but that we should make sure to keep the underlying and more perennial principles in mind and not get (too) lost in the minutiae.
Flash was built from the ashes of a program called SmartSketch. It was designed to be an animation program for a pen based operating system called PenPoint. AT&T decided to stop supporting it and SmartSketch was eventually reworked into a tool for web publishing called FutureSplash, released in 1995. FutureWave (who made FutureSplash) were eventually purchased by Macromedia and became Flash. Around 2000, Flash added the ability to add something called Actionscript to your Flash animations; effectively making it a gaming/interactive platform for the internet. Because the drawing system of Flash is vector-based it allowed pretty dynamic content to be created for relatively small sizes. Probably, the most famous community associated with Flash is Newgrounds, known for its games and animation offerings.
It was also one avenue where early examples of what came to be called “creative coding”or netart began to flourish.
Advances in video compression technology eventually led to Flash adding the ability to import video. YouTube and Google were built using Flash.
Everything is better now
Further Reading/SourcesThe History of Flash (by Jonathan Gay, the programmer who worked on Flash)︎
Flash and its History on the Web by Jay Hoffman︎
How Adobe Flash, once the face of the web, fell to the brink of obscurity—and why it’s worth saving by Keith Collins︎
The Life, Death and Rebirth of Adobe Flash by Christina Warren︎
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