The Last Days of Flash

A few years ago, Adobe announced it would stop supporting, updating, and distributing Flash Player by the end of 2020. Google Chrome and other popular browsers are set to stop supporting Flash this year, as well. And although Flash integration has decreased, there are still an estimated 100 million websites using this soon-to-be-extinct technology.

Flash in the trash

A Brief History of Adobe Flash

1993 – 1996: FutureWave Software

A group of three developers founded FutureWave in 1993, initially building a stylus-enabled graphics editor for Macintosh computers called SmartSketch. During the time it took them to develop SmartSketch, the World Wide Web began to take off. This led the team to focus their efforts on building FutureSplash, a web animation toolkit. Released in 1995, FutureSplash Animator enabled designers to create animations that could be embedded onto websites using its sister product, FutureSplash Viewer.

Netscape and Internet Explorer, the two predominant web browsers at the time, gave FutureSplash the exposure that led to its success in 1996. While Netscape featured the FutureSplash player in its popular list of browser extensions, Microsoft integrated the player onto Internet Explorer’s default homepage. The latter is essentially the current equivalent of Google featuring your product beneath their search bar. So yea, this was a pretty big deal.

Macromedia Flash

1996 – 2004: The Inception & Growth of Flash

Macromedia, developer of the Shockwave web player, purchased FutureSplash in 1996. After improving upon the FutureSplash technology and truncating its name, Flash was born. Integrating a programming language called ActionScript to display interactive webpages, Flash version 5 was launched in 2000. This enabled users to build entire websites with Flash software. Customizable video capabilities were added in 2002 with the release of version 6. This addition led to an exponential increase in the number of websites using Flash.

2005 – Present: YouTube, iPhone, and the Eventual Decline of Flash

In 2005, Adobe acquired Macromedia. That same year a small company known as YouTube was founded by some former PayPal coworkers. Their simple yet revolutionary idea of creating a website for anyone to upload and stream videos quickly took off. And the software behind YouTube’s functionality? Flash.

Right up until 2015, YouTube used Adobe Flash as its default video player. This coincided with the development of the HTML5 markup language in 2014. Still in use today, HTML5 rapidly took over as the go-to for website development and YouTube smartly decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Adobe Flash

Another major factor contributing to the decline of Flash was the 2007 release of the iPhone. Apple’s iPhone purposefully did not include support for Flash. As the iPhone grew in popularity, Flash popularity naturally began to wane.

As major web browsers and internet enabled devices followed suit by moving toward full HTML5 support, Adobe eventually caved in 2017, announcing that Flash support would end in 2020.

“But What if My Website Uses Flash?”

Flash Player warning

In less than six months, websites using Flash will probably still exist, but they definitely won’t work. If your website is one of the millions using Adobe Flash, our team of web development and design experts is here to help. Contact us today for a free evaluation so we can help build you a stunning website that will stand the test of time.

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