End of Flash: Source of Online Creativity Plagued With Problems | NOW


Software maker Adobe will stop supporting Flash at the end of 2020. After 24 years, this brings a definitive end to a platform to which the internet owes its visual panache.

“We are proud that Flash has played a vital role in the development of the web in animation, interactivity, audio and video,” Adobe wrote in early December when releasing the latest update to the Flash Player. Flash will be ready after December 31, 2020. Then the platform is no longer supported. As of January 12, 2021, Flash content in the Flash Player will be completely blocked.

The Flash Player is a browser plug-in that displays Flash files. This mainly concerns videos and sounds that are added to a website.

In the mid-1990s, the internet looked simple, with few interactive elements and a lot of text. That changed when Macromedia acquired the FutureSplash Animator program and renamed it Macromedia Flash. Flash was the simplest and most used way to get audio and video online at the time.

The dancing banana from the song ‘Peanut Butter Jelly Time’.


The dancing banana from the song 'Peanut Butter Jelly Time'.

The dancing banana from the song ‘Peanut Butter Jelly Time’.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time and Super Meat Boy

The software caused a creative explosion on the internet. Funny animations such as Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Badgers, Weebl and Bob and Loituma Girl (also known as the girl with the leek). These videos, however silly or annoying they may have been in retrospect, became very well known and became part of early internet culture.

Websites like Newgrounds, Armor Games, Adult Swim, and Kongregate became popular. On these sites unknown animators and game makers were given a platform with which they could reach a large audience. Games like Super Meat Boy, Alien Hominid and Kingdom Rush. Flash was also used on websites such as Hyves and Facebook, for example FarmVille, and became Habbo Hotel popular. Incidentally, the first version of FarmVille in 2021, but goes Habbo Hotel in a modified version.

Steve Jobs wrote an open letter in 2010 entitled Thoughts About Flash.


Steve Jobs wrote an open letter in 2010 entitled Thoughts About Flash.

Steve Jobs wrote an open letter in 2010 entitled Thoughts About Flash.

Photo: Getty Images

A letter from Steve Jobs

Flash was an important part of the Internet for a long time. In 2005 the program came into the hands of Adobe, but not much later the first cracks appeared in the software, when smartphones made their rise. The program did not work well on the touch screens, also wrote the late Apple director Steve Jobs in 2010 in an open letter entitled Thoughts on Flash. In it, he went on to write about the closed nature of Flash and pointed out problems in the security and performance of the system.

In the mobile age, Flash fell short, according to Jobs. Therefore, the platform was not supported on iPhones. It turned out to be the first nail in Flash’s coffin.

“With the end of outdated Flash, several classic animations and games threatened to disappear. But thousands have been saved. ”

In the years that followed, other companies increasingly ignored the platform. Creators of sites and services often switched to the new alternative HTML5. So did Adobe itself in 2011, when it discontinued Flash for mobile devices. In 2015, YouTube switched to HTML5 and the then Facebook security chief called for the plug to be pulled from Flash. A year later, the Chrome browser discontinued support.

With the end of outdated Flash, several classic animations and games threatened to disappear. But thousands have been saved. A special tool was introduced on Newgrounds with which Flash animations and games can be played. The non-profit initiative The Internet Archive also set up a gallery of honor with the best-known Flash creations. With that, Flash will disappear from 2021, but the memory will not be lost.

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