Flash says goodbye and with it we say goodbye to an Internet era | Digital Trends Spanish
After 20 years as one of the fundamental pieces of the Internet, Flash, the multimedia player that allowed us to enjoy animations, videos and games, says goodbye on January 12. It was about 25 years that Flash remained in the development plans of Adobe –the company that designed it–, although its relevance was shorter and it had an indisputable executioner: the iPhone.
The magic of the Internet
In 1996, when home internet connections were generally 56.6 kbps (the twentieth of 1 Mbps), Adobe designed a computer application that made it possible to develop consumable multimedia content with the internet of yesteryear without having to wait hours to enjoy it; download one minute of 1080p video with a 56.6 kbps connection it took just over an hour.
Then came the year 2000 and Flash became an extremely common program on computers of that time. So much so that Adobe came to estimate that Flash was installed on 99 percent of computers at the time. The program was included in browsers such as AOL, Netscape and Internet Explorer. And if Flash was a common consumer application, it was even more so in the world of web design.
“Flash allowed you to create a three-minute animation with various characters, background, sounds and music in less than 2MB and playable from a browser,” animator David Firth told the BBC.
Talking about Flash is talking about an Internet from another era. Perhaps Flash animations were for a generation what youtubers they mean in the contemporary internet.
Who or what killed the Flash?
In a short answer, time and technological progress. But if names are what you’re after, then a sensible recipient would be the iPhone. David Mendels, former executive vice president of Adobe, confesses that by the time Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, Flash was not ready to transition to the mobile internet.
Jobs prevented Flash from being compatible with the iPhone, leaving Adobe without access to a growing market segment.
Another factor was the constant security flaws. The popularity of Flash meant that many malicious programs saw an opportunity to sneak onto computers, requiring Adobe to work on constant updates.
Also, the arrival on the Internet of names like Facebook, Netflix and YouTube, which found in HTML 5 and other computer programs the way to reproduce multimedia content without Flash.
Entertainment of an era
In 2000, Flash was to computer entertainment what cinema was to movies. There couldn’t be one without the other. It was enough to open a browser and search for “flash games” or “flash animations” to find a lot of content.
It’s peanut butter jelly time! it became the “Gangnam Style” of 2000. And it wasn’t all independent creativity. Corporatism also suited Flash. Ubisoft, the production company that is famous today for the series Assassin’s creed, adapted his classic Prince of persia to Flash. Other games were more what today we would call a creation indie. Fly guy, from developer Trevor van Meter, set the player flying without an apparent target. Other series were born there to later make the leap to other platforms. It was the case of Alien Hominid, which later had adaptations for iOS and video game consoles. And further into the contemporary era, Zynga made a name for himself – and truckloads of money – with FarmVille in the age of social media.
And as is often the case on the internet, it is difficult to find a consensus on how many games and animations were developed for Flash. Some counts they target 70,000 games and close to 8,000 animations.
Even though all this content has its days numbered, some enthusiasts rightly consider it part of Internet history. The Internet Archive already has a collection with just over 2,400 pieces, between animations and video games. A pinch considering the nearly 78,000 creations identified.
To keep them alive, since 2016 a team of developers has been working on a Flash emulator called Ruffle with which it is possible to reproduce Flash content on the Internet Archive.