FuturespLASH – is there a future?

Flash is an integral part of the history of the Internet. From a graphical editor to hosting Flash content on 50% of all sites on the Internet, to further fighting against hosted Flash content and exploiting vulnerabilities in the browser, Flash has faced it all. How did the world come to this technology?

1993 year

The concept of “Flash” dates back to 1993 when FutureWave Software was founded, work on the SmartSketch graphic editor for computers with a stylus on PenPoint OS and further belated porting to Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

1995 year

Low sales and rapid development of web technologies pushed developers to rework SmartSketch into CelAnimator, a tool for creating animated vector graphics.

PC Computing Magazine Volume 9 Issue 9 / archive.org
PC Computing Magazine Volume 9 Issue 9 / archive.org

Beta testers used CelAnimator to create navigation bars, technical illustrations, and banner ads.

1996 year

The program was renamed FutureSplash Animator to reflect the new positioning. All content created with FutureSplash was named ‘movies’.


Just a few months after the release of its FutureSplash player, Netscape added it to its list of recommended extensions.

In late 1996, Macromedia bought FutureSplash in an effort to gain widespread adoption of its own Shockwave web player. In hopes of making the name more memorable, they shortened it and released Macromedia Flash (FuturespLASH).

1997 year

By releasing the second version of Flash and adding the ability to place buttons, connect libraries and sounds, along with improved integration with bitmaps and animations: Flash becomes a powerful tool for creating marketing material with animations, sounds and basic buttons – Stop and GoTo.

1998 year

The third version kicked off the “movie clip”, which became a powerful tool for creating instructions for tutorials, reference documents and software overviews, as it included its own timeline, allowing Flash users to enter more complex interactivity compared to what was previously available.

With video clips, users could organize interactions across multiple timelines that followed different instructions and interacted with each other; this made it possible to create sites entirely in Flash.

As the software evolved, more sophisticated programming capabilities were incorporated, but the basic timeline paradigm developed for animation creation was retained.

1999 year

By mid-year, Flash became the default player in Microsoft Internet Explorer.


year 2000

ActionScript was added to version 5 in August. Developers began to combine ActionScript with buttons and were able to create more than just animations, they could create entire interactive websites. Some used this technology to add a short introduction or small widget, others built entire sites from scratch using only Flash, so the only HTML on the page was the embedded player.


Of course, there were also disadvantages. Search engines couldn’t read content that was blocked inside a Flash file, so search engine optimization disappeared, and with it accessibility. And because everything had to be loaded in advance, Flash sites were a little slower. But they still attracted designers who wanted to do more with a website than the still early HTML and CSS technologies would allow. Thus, Flash opened up a new generation of web design.

2002 year

6 version of Flash and video support, Flash MX. The software was significantly redesigned using Flash MX and published in March 2002 and a Flash MX Professional version in September 2003.


2004 year

In March 2004, a new programming environment called Macromedia Flex was introduced to develop what Macromedia describes as “rich Internet applications” (or RIAs) on the Flash platform. “

One of the cult games, Yetisports: Ylympics
One of the cult games, Yetisports: Ylympics

Some of the newer Flash sites, such as Flickr, have attracted significant attention. Soon, these sites became examples of a completely new vision of the Internet, filled with “user generated content.”

2005 year

The first vulnerability in the Macromedia MX 2004 line: Captivate, Contribute 2 and 3 – which allowed a local user to execute arbitrary code and gain elevated privileges.

2006 year

Google bought YouTube this year, and its popularity at an accelerating rate has only strengthened the ubiquity of Flash.


Adobe bought the company as part of the Macromedia acquisition, which gave rise to a new lineup – Adobe Macromedia.

Five CVE bulletins were recorded with various vulnerabilities.

2007 year

The release of the first iPhone and Apple’s refusal to use Flash, even in a lightweight form, in its operating system.

2008 year

The start of the Open Screen Project, the goal of which is to create a unified software interface for a personal computer, mobile devices and household appliances.

The emergence and exploitation of vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash using paid exploit kits.

year 2009

Adobe has removed restrictions on the use of SWF, FLV / F4V specifications.

2010 year

Steve Jobs publishes open letter, where he explains why Flash will never appear on Apple mobile devices.

Lewis Wallace /cultofmac.com
Lewis Wallace /cultofmac.com

2017 year

Adobe has posted a blog entry – Flash & the Future of Interactive Content… As HTML5, WebGL, and WebAssembly standards became more prevalent on the web, and as the Flash audience began to decline, the company decided to stop developing Flash Player from the end of 2020 and urged content creators to migrate to new open formats.

2020 year

At the moment, the vulnerability database contains published 1078 vulnerabilities.

Number of vulnerabilities broken down by year of publication and by type / cvedetails.com
Number of vulnerabilities broken down by year of publication and by type / cvedetails.com

On October 27, Microsoft released an update that removes Flash Player. In early 2021, the update will be rolled out through WSUS and Windows Update. By the end of the year the Flash Player plugin will be removed from Chrome.

The history of the Internet remembers many different changes, but for sure everyone has encountered Flash: both in professional activities and when working with ordinary browsers. 12/31/2020 we turn to the next page, the era of Flash technology is becoming a thing of the past.

This concludes our excursion into the main milestones in Flash technology. We hope for those who have been in IT for a long time, it was interesting to remember, and for those who did not find all the stages, at least it is useful.

Main source of images, thank you for the story: webdesignmuseum.org

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