With Adobe Flash reaching its end of life on December 31 of this year, the Internet Archive has announced its plan to preserve both Flash animations and games on its site for future generations.
The nonprofit, known for its Wayback Machine, will emulate Flash content on its site so that users can access it even if their web browser no longer supports Flash.
According to the Internet Archive, you can already play and watch more than 1,000 Flash games and animations on the site, including Homestar Runner and classics such as “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” and “All Your Base Is Ours”. This is done using a developing Flash emulator called Ruffle, which is not 100 percent compatible with all content, but can play a very large portion of the historical Flash animation in a user’s browser with both smooth and accurate speed.
US archivist James Scott provided further insight into why the Internet Archive has worked to preserve older software in one blog post, saying:
“The Internet Archive has been aggressive over the past decade to run a slew of older software in the browser. We did this project, The Emularity, because one of our fundamental principles is Access Drives Preservation; if you can immediately experience a version of the software in your browser, although it is not perfect or universal, the chances are many times greater that support will come to keep these items. “
The Rise and Fall of Flash
In 1993, FutureWave Software released a vector drawing program called SmartSketch, the predecessor to Flash. While it was originally intended to draw pictures, the company adapted it in 1995 by adding frame-by-frame animation features due to the growing popularity of the Internet.
FutureSplash was then acquired in 1996 by Macromedia who rebranded FutureSplash Animator as Macromedia Flash. However, the software was a two-part system consisting of a graphics and animation editor and a player called Macromedia Flash Player. The software was renamed again in 2005 when Adobe acquired Macromedia.
Before the introduction of Flash, web browsers were mainly used to display images and text, but there was a growing demand for animation and sound on web pages. Flash’s ability to compress content was a huge advantage that led to its huge popularity among Internet users with dial-up connections.
Between 2000 and 2005, Flash was the primary tool used by a generation of creative artists, animators, and small studios who wanted to quickly produce content and distribute it on the Internet. However, Flash’s popularity almost died overnight when Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, wrote a letter entitled “Thoughts About Flash,” explaining why the software would never come to the iPhone.
The final death knell for Flash was the introduction of HTML 5 in 2014, as it offered browser-level support for animation, sound, and video.
If you are too young to remember Flash videos and games, it is well worth checking out the internet archives Flash Showcase and by preserving this content, the nonprofit will make it possible for a new generation to enjoy the videos and games that have made the Internet what it is today.
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