In the original The Wizard of Oz (1939), the film transitions from black and white to color when Dorothy transports from Kansas to the Land of Oz.
A similar thing happened to the internet in the mid-1990s.
The internet was once a land of text blocks and dreary backgrounds. But according to How To Geek, everything changed in 1996 when a company called Macromedia acquired an animation tool called FutureSplash and rebranded it as Macromedia Flash 1.0.
This led to a creative burst over the next decade
As Flash spread across the internet as a browser plug-in, designers entered the fray.
Browser games, interactive websites, web comics, and other colorful content took over the internet.
In 2005, Adobe acquired Macromedia for $3.4B and set out to make it even more ubiquitous.
Flash laid the groundwork for today’s video streaming world
With a file format called FLV, any browser that had the Flash player installed could play video.
As How to Geek reminds us, even now-massive sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and Hulu once depended entirely on Flash.
The beginning of the end
The downfall of Flash began in 2007, when Apple decided not to support it on the new iPhone. In 2010, Steve Jobs penned the famous open letter “Thoughts on Flash,” which laid out a savage critique of the technology:
- Rapid energy consumption
- Poor performance on mobile devices
- Security dependence on one company (Adobe) made it a huge risk
In 2017, Adobe announced it would discontinue Flash. Support officially ended on Dec. 31, 2020.