Adobe Flash Player is pretty dead today, but it was once a radical change for the web. Today we review the history of Flash.
Today Flash is a scourge that sadly is still necessary to reproduce some content on the web. Luckily, it is becoming a more marginal application that has been dismissed by HTML5.
Websites that still require it for certain functions are just a hangover from years of monopolistic success of Flash to play video and music or play on the web. And is that Flash in its day was very groundbreaking and changed the web for good.
Flash story: origins and years of glory
Flash was born as a plugin and standard for displaying graphics and moving vectors on websites in 1997, but in a few years it evolved and became the default player on the web. All in a time when there was no standard to play video or audio on the web.
In 1999 it began to support streaming of MP3 files, and in the year 2000 it began to distribute in AOL, Netscape and Internet Explorer. Two years later he was included as a complement with Windows XP and thus ended up reaching a dominant position that allowed him to become an indisputable standard, becoming installed on 92% of devices that connected to the web.
In 2002, I also gave way to streaming video playback, which dominated indisputably for years. Little by little it was adding new possibilities such as support for GIF and PNG or full screen mode.
From those years until the end of the decade, Flash became the undisputed king of content playback on the web, and it was essential to have it installed to browse without missing half of the content. So the web lacked a standard for playing multimedia content and Flash became the solution. At the time it was a great tool.
Apple, the mobile age and HTML5: the beginning of the end
In 2010 Steve Jobs (and consequently Apple) began his crusade against Flash. The Adobe player was always covered in iOS, but it was in 2010 when Jobs made his statements against him: he criticized him because he did not take advantage of the new hardware, it was a malware strainer and consume a lot of battery.
Although there was also a financial interest in the fact that iOS did not support Flash (Apple was interested in getting all the content from the App Store), they were also right in their criticism, and time ended up agreeing with them.
With the arrival of Jelly Bean in 2012, Flash also said goodbye to Android, at a time when there were already many websites adapted to work with HTML5. In a world where the mobile already dominated the PC, it was a matter of time before Flasb finished dying.
Bye and thanks Flash
With that blow that brought the end of Flash for mobiles, most of the websites that were about to take the step to HTML5 did so in the following two years. Mozilla announced in 2015 that it disabled Flash temporarily in its browser, and the truth is that it was hardly more than a confirmation of an announced death, because users no longer noticed the difference. Soon after, Adobe gave him a decent grave and announced that they would focus on making tools to work with HTML5.
HTML5 is no longer the future, it has long been the present. Flash has ended up stepping aside for the good of all users, but that doesn’t mean it has always been terrible. At the time the web changed, a lot and for good. Bye and thanks Flash, we really mean it.