An Adobe Flash flashback

A timeline of key events in the life of Shockwave/Macromedia/Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash


Remember when the web pages were static and boring. And then along came Macromedia Flash. All of a sudden web pages were jumping and hopping with animation delivered by Flash. The multimedia platform has been on a long, slow decline over the past five years, but Flash remains embedded in many of the Internet’s most popular web sites. Here’s a look at some of the key events in the life of Flash. (Read the full story of Flash's demise.)

Charlie Jackson


Northern California entrepreneurs Jonathan Gay and Charlie Jackson cofounded a company called FutureWave Software. Gay was the principal programmer and visionary creator of Flash.



Gay and a programmer named Robert Tatsumi released FutureWave's first product, a graphics and vector drawing program christened SmartSketch, designed specifically for the PenPoint operating system and the EO Personal Communicator, the world's first tablet computer.

Smart sketch


SmartSketch was redesigned for the Windows and Macintosh operating systems. As the internet and the World Wide Web gained popularity, SmartSketch was redesigned again for the internet. Gay renamed it FutureSplash Animator.

FutureSplash Animator


FutureSplash Animator was released. In November/December of that same year, Macromedia purchased the program and renamed it Macromedia Flash 1.0 (an abbreviated adaptation of the words Future and Splash). The new program served a dual purpose; that is, it was a graphics and animation editor (Macromedia Flash) and multimedia player (Macromedia Flash Player).



Adobe Systems purchased Flash and the complete Macromedia product line including Dreamweaver, Director/Shockwave, and Authorware for approximately $3.4 billion.

Flash CS4


Adobe released the first version of Flash CS4 (the 10th version) with Integrated Runtime, which also included the first in-built 3D engine—without GPU acceleration. This allowed basic object transformations in 3D space; that is, position, rotation, and scaling.

Steve Jobs
Wikimedia (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)


Steve Jobs announced to the world that Flash would not be installed on any of his devices, (i.e., iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, etc.) because Flash was slow, cumbersome, battery intensive, and totally incompatible with touch-screens. In addition to the massive security vulnerabilities and zero-day attacks, Jobs said Flash was the main reason why Macs and mobile devices crashed.



Adobe ends Flash development for mobile devices and concentrates on HTML5 for mobile apps. (There are no Adobe Flash Player versions for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, etc.). Adobe is committed to aggressively contribute to HTML5.)

Adobe Flash


The major browser players, including Safari, Chrome and Firefox, announce plans to phase out the use of Flash.

Adobe Flash


Despite its fading market share, Flash is still alive and Adobe is still updating the product. On Nov. 11, Adobe released a beta version of Flash Player 24, which includes a bunch of fixes, plus new features. No date has been announced for the formal release.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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