How Flash appeared

    Flash technology has left its mark on the history of the Internet and design standards in just a few years, but such serious things do not appear every day. And so: where did Flash come from? What was its basis? This article answers these and many other questions.

    How it all started

    It all started with the fact that a young man named Jonathan and with the surname Gay dreamed of for a Russian and an English man dreamed of becoming an architect. While he was drawing sketches of buildings, he realized that he had little chance that his sketches would ever be brought to life. And from the moment that Apple II entered his life, Jonathan began to engage in programming, and he soon realized that writing programs gives you the opportunity to invent, create, and later you can see how it all works and interacts with the user . Finally, his inventiveness began to take shape, although his skills in programming in Basic on Apple II were much worse than his architecture skills.

    His first real program written in Basic was the game, which was an exact copy of the game "Space Invaders". Shortly after Basic, he began writing programs in Pascal, with which he created his first graphic editor, SuperPaint, for which he received an award at a science fair at school.

    “If you ever thought that using Flash is very difficult, you would try to draw on the Apple II using the joystick before the concept of the undo function was developed. We’ll see how calm you are. ”

    Jonathan Gay, Flash Creator

    Jonathan Gay began professional programming while he was still in school. When his Apple II was replaced by a Macintosh, Jonathan and his father began attending the early meetings of the Macintosh Users Group, where his father boasted to the organizer about Jonathan's project for a science fair. As it turned out later, the organizer was Charlie Jackson, who planned to create a company to create software for Macintosh and call it Silicon Beach Software.

    Although Charlie did not have sufficient funds to create his plan, he still purchased for $ 10,000 a Lisa computer so that Jonathan could program on it. It was on this computer that Jonathan wrote the first Macintosh game, “Airborne!”, Which used digital sound and smooth animation for its time. For its time, the game sold very well.

    From games to drawing

    When work began on the next game, a professional actor was specially hired to create it, and later a game called Dark Castle was released. This game was a very big hit, and its sales paid for Jonathan's college education. After the game "Dark Castle" appeared "Beyond Dark Castle". Game development has become an important part of Jonathan's programming background, stimulating him to combine animation and digital sound and synchronize these elements. And the most important thing is that for Jonathan the concept of fast software interacting with the user has become paramount.

    "Dark Castle"

    "Beyond Dark Castle"

    After developing Beyond Dark Castle, Jonathan set about creating the editor of SuperPaint II, a follower of his research project in which he implemented the PostScript drawing style. After SuperPaint II was finished and Jonathan finished college, he went on a full-time job at Silicon Beach Software, and began developing technology to create a new generation of graphics software. It will be written in C, and will use an object-oriented framework to simplify the development process and the possibility of use, both on Macintosh computers and on computers running Windows.

    SuperPaint II
    This technology spawned a program called Intellidraw, which allowed Silicon Beach Software to compete with Adobe Illustrator and Aldus Freehand, which was later acquired by Macromedia, on the PostScript market. The uniqueness of Intellidraw was that in addition to the ability to draw images, it also allowed you to add actions to the drawn images, so in addition to the possibility of creating lines that would connect to any object and other lines, you could add, for example, a histogram , which could change when the user entered numbers into a text object. Later it turned out that “Intellidraw” was not the first program that allowed to do this, and there was an image editor “SketchPad”, but people quickly forgot about it. Visio was able to implement this idea in its product, which turned out to be very successful, while Intellidraw did not attract the proper respect from users. When it became clear that Intellidraw was doomed, Jonathan decided it was time to start acting differently. During his part-time work, he earned the same amount of money as he did when working on Intellidraw, so he decided to try to create a more successful product and make it go to him, so he founded his own company.

    At this time, in personal computer technology, pen computers, which were a screen on which you could draw with an electronic pen, were the last “peep”. GO was developing an operating system for a new generation of laptop computers that could use this technology. Computers could become smaller, and users could actually take them with them anywhere. It was a very attractive idea, and with the example of Silicon Beach Software it was perfectly clear which new operating system provided an opportunity to create new software companies.

    With the help of Charlie Jackson’s investment, FutureWave Software was established in January 1993 to dominate the pen market.

    At that time it was clear that it was quite difficult for users to learn the complex features of the program, so the real test was to create a complex product that would be easy to use. Drawing on a computer was obviously slower and less convenient than drawing with a pen on paper. Although Apple’s mouse was a clear breakthrough compared to the joystick, drawing with a pen on a computer screen was much easier. With the help of Robert Tatsumi, Jonathan began to develop a program that would allow you to draw on a computer with the same ease as on paper.

    Changes in plans

    GO turned out to spend money better than it made and was later acquired by AT&T, which soon, in January 1994, covered GO and left FutureWave Software without a market. The only way out was to take the program and rewrite it for use on Macintosh and under Windows. At that moment, SmartSketch entered the market as a product for more convenient drawing on a computer and even excelled a bit in the market, where Illustrator and Freehand dominated.

    In the middle of summer 1995, FutureWave Software received a lot of letters from consumers in which they said that they should convert SmartSketch into an animation product. FutureWave Software was very interested in creating animation software, but at that time VHS and CD ROM were the only ways to distribute the animation, and the animation software market was very narrow.

    Just at this time, a new concept called the Internet, like the World Wide Web, debuted in front of the public. In theory, it seemed likely that the network would become so popular that users would want to send and view graphics or animation, thereby creating a platform for FutureWave Software to create a useful product for two-dimensional computer animation.

    With that in mind, work began on adding animation features to SmartSketch and creating an interpreter for the network in Java, which at first was very slow for rendering animations. FutureWave Software continued to develop, and in the fall, the Netscape browser came out with an API for connecting plug-ins, which provided the opportunity to create a plug-in with decent performance.

    Talk about selling SmartSketch began long before it became clear that the program does not have a distinctive brand, and should focus less on drawing, and more on animation. Therefore, the program was renamed to "CelAnimation". Due to the fear that the program will be labeled “for creating animation”, it was renamed again, and now it was called “FutureSplash Animator”.

    FutureSplash Animator
    Almost under the wing of Adobe

    Work on FutureSplash Animator continued, but the company began to worry that they were too small to create the level of popularity they were seeking, so in October 1995 they tried to sell the technology to John Warnock from Adobe

    And Although he was interested in the program for creating illustrations “SmartSketch”, but the very slow operation of the animation “FutureSplash Animator” in Java did not impress, so Adobe refused the deal. In December 1995, Fractal Design almost bought the company, but they were also more interested in SmartSketch, and they abandoned FutureSplash Animator.

    In the summer of 1996, FutureSplash Animator was released, and the public began to show interest in it. The greatest success of FutureWave Software was in August 1996, when Microsoft was working on a network version of MSN, and they wanted to create something more like television on the Internet; The solution was FutureSplash Animator. Another successful client for FutureWave Software was Disney Online. They took advantage of FutureSplash Animator to create animations and an interface for their subscription service, Disney's Daily Blast.

    In November 1996, Macromedia began to negotiate with FutureWave Software for collaboration. Due to the fact that FutureWave Software existed for 4 years with investments totaling $ 500,000, they accepted the offer, and in December 1996 Macromedia acquired the company, and FutureSplash Animator turned into Macromedia Flash 1.0.

    “The idea of ​​using the rich resources of a well-known company to distribute FutureSplash Animator seemed very interesting to us.”

    Jonathan Gay, creator of Flash


    Release History Macromedia Flash 2 was released in 1997, with support for stereo sound, improved integration of bitmap images, buttons, a library of components, and the ability to change colors frame by frame.

    “Macromedia Flash 2”
    In 1998, Macromedia Flash 3 included such changes: improvements in animation, playback, and publishing, as well as a primitive scripting language for adding interactivity. Also this year, Macromedia sold its 100,000th instance of Flash.

    "Macromedia Flash 3"
    100 million Flash player installations were achieved in 1999, partly because it was included with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. Macromedia Flash 4 introduced MP3 streaming and motion tweens. Initially, the Flash plugin was not supplied with any browser, and users had to visit the Macromedia website to download and install it, but in 2000 Flash Player was already supplied with all AOL, Netscape, and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers. After 2 years, it was already delivered built-in to all versions of Microsoft Windows XP. Flash Player’s coverage rate was 92% of all Internet users.

    "Macromedia Flash 4"
    In 2000, with the release of Macromedia Flash 5, much has changed. ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language that added interactivity, data processing, and much more to the contents of Flash applications, entered the game, as well as the opportunity to change the interface of the development environment.

    Macromedia Flash 5
    The Macromedia Generator project was the company's first attempt to separate design from content in Flash. It was released in April 2000, and in its corporate version provided the ability to create Flash on the server side. The project was closed in 2002 in order to allow other technologies to develop, such as Flash Remoting, which made it possible to smoothly transfer data between the server and the client, as well as the ColdFusion server.

    In October 2000, design guru Jacob Nielsen wrote a controversial article about the ease of use of Flash, which was called "Flash is 99% bad." Macromedia later hired Jacob to simplify the use of the development environment.

    In September 2001, a survey conducted by Media Metrix for Macromedia showed that 7 out of 10 sites in the US use Flash content.

    On March 15, 2002, Macromedia announced the release of the 6th version of Flash Player and Macromedia Flash MX, which supported video, application components, libraries, and were easy to use. Also in 2002, Flash Communication Server MX was released, which allowed streaming video to Flash Player 6. Another way to provide this was to embed video in Flash movies.

    Macromedia Flash MX
    In September 2003, the Flash MX 2004 version was released, working up to 8 times faster than its predecessors, with an improved compiler and the new Macromedia Flash Player 7. There were also opportunities to create charts, graphs and additional special effects for text, support for extensions, sold separately, importing PDF files with high accuracy, as well as Adobe Illustrator 10 files, development for mobile and portable devices, and developing applications using forms. In addition, ActionScript 2.0 also appeared, which provided developers with an object-oriented programming approach using ActionScript. V2 components have been replaced by Flash MX components and redesigned from scratch to provide ActionScript 2.0 features and object-oriented programming principles. Flash MX 2004 was the first version of the program, divided into the "Basic" and "Professional" versions. The "basic" version was created for those who were engaged in traditional Flash animation, and the "Professional" version was created with more advanced functionality, such as data components.

    Macromedia Flash MX 2004
    In 2004, the company introduced the Flash Platform. This development represented Flash not only as a development environment; Flex 1.0 and Breeze 1.0 were released, which used Flash Player as an information delivery tool, but both were independent of the Flash development environment for developing Flash applications in the first case, and Flash presentations in the second. The company also introduced Flash Lite 1.1, which was designed specifically to run Flash on mobile devices.

    Macromedia introduced Flash 8 in 2005, which it says has been the most significant change since Flash 5. Among the new features include: filters, anti-aliasing, caching of bitmap images, the new On2 VP6 video codec, an improved visualization mechanism for fonts - FlashType, an emulator for mobile devices, as well as several improvements regarding ActionScript 2.0, for example, the BitmapData class, class ConvolutionFilter, the DisplacementMapFilter class, and several classes for working with geometry. Also in 2005, Flash Lite 2.0 was released, which was similar in its capabilities to Flash Player 7.

    "Macromedia Flash 8"
    Under the wing of Adobe

    On December 3, 2005, Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia and all of its developments, including Flash. The deal amounted to approximately 3.4 billion US dollars.

    In 2006, Flash Player 9 was released for Mac OS and Windows. For the first time in all time, Flash Player came out without a usually joint development environment exit. Together with Flash Player 9, Flex 2.0 was also released, and Flash 9 continued to be distributed without a development environment until 2007. For the first time in all the technology’s existence, the Flash Player interpreter has the opportunity to spread widely long before the development environment for it appears.

    In January 2007, Flash Player 9 for Linux was released. Flash CS3, remade from Flash 8, with some updates mainly consisting of integration with other products from Adobe, appears as one of the products in the Adobe Creative Suite CS3 suite. The new version also includes ActionScript 3.0 and a new mechanism for working with XML. In late January 2007, Adobe Systems also introduced a revolutionary technology called Apollo (now AIR - Adobe Integrated Runtime). This technology allows you to transfer interactive applications for the Internet from the browser to the desktop, i.e. developers were able to use their usual tools - Flash / Flex, HTML, Ajax to create regular applications. Adobe AIR beta versions for Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista are currently available. as well as for Mac OS versions 10.4.8 and 10.4.9. Adobe plans to release the Linux version only in conjunction with the release of the first version of the technology. In early June 2007, Adobe also introduced a beta version of the Flex 3.0 development environment, code-named Moxie, which carries some bug fixes, native support for Adobe AIR, improved compiler speed, and many other changes ...

    “Adobe Flash CS3”

    In 2001, 50 people were developing Flash, instead of 3; worked so much at FutureWave Software when the company was born. Since then, Flash has evolved from simple network animation and network illustration software to a multimedia development environment. Flash has become synonymous with describing animations on the Internet. Flash Player is currently the most common software on the planet; it is significantly ahead of Internet Explorer, Windows, Firefox and other software in the number of computers on which it is installed ...

    Sources used to write the article

    Flash History before the release of version 2.0
    Timeline of Flash versions starting from version 2.0.
    Screenshots of the first 5 versions of Flash
    Screenshots of the remaining versions of Flash
    You can download FutureSplash Animator version 1.0 for Windows from this link. Volume 2Mb.

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