Twenty years Flash – The most dangerous plug-in Internet

May

6

2016

Flash celebrated in May its twentieth anniversary. A big party probably is not, for the time is almost ripe to write an obituary. More and more websites swear the software platform for spicing up Internet pages with animation, games, animated banners and videos. Adobe Flash Player plug-in that allows users to view Flash content, and repeated negative publicity because of critical vulnerabilities. Last year discovered hundreds, an absolute record. And years before vulnerabilities played a major role, many saw the Flash Player as a resource consuming, cumbersome plug-in, which made ​​computers slow.

Where do all those problems with Flash actually come from and how is it possible that they continue for twenty years? Now Flash exists two decades, we look back at the history and vulnerabilities, but also the memorable Flash animations, -based and videos on the internet thanks to the software appeared.

The beginning: Future Splash Animator

Future Splash Animator Jonathan Gay, one of the founders of Flash, explains how was created the animation software. He does this in an article on the Adobe website, which only have to return via Archive.org found . The first version was published in May 1996 and had called Future Splash Animator. The package was designed by Future Wave Software, a small company with six employees. Future Wave initially tried to sell the technology to Adobe, but when that failed, the animation software itself released.

Once on the market Future Splash was quickly picked up by large companies. Microsoft worked in August 1996 on its MSN Web portal and wanted a ‘TV-like’ experience creating web. According Gay Microsoft embraced the technique of Future Splash and so it was that the software giant for the introduction of the MSN portal used the technique of small software company.

Macromedia Flash 1.0

Disney Online also used the Future Splash software, animation and create a user interface for the Disney Daily Blast. This would be a subscription service to be online games. Disney also worked with Macromedia that its Shockwave Player offered a technique for viewing multimedia on the Internet. Macromedia saw the animation technology FutureWave idea and took over the company in December 1996 on.

Macromedia Flash

The acquisition resulted in January 1997 in the introduction of Macromedia Flash 1.0 and the arrival of the Shockwave Flash Player. Which plug-in to play Flash files was 100kB in size and therefore easy to download. Moreover, there were already 17 million PCs worldwide Macromedia’s Shockwave Player is installed, so there was immediately a big market for Flash. In the following years grew in popularity quickly. According to Jonathan Gay worked fifty people to Flash in 2001 were 500,000 developers using animation software and was the Flash Player installed on over 325 million computers.

Adobe Flash Player

Adobe Flash Player In 2005, Flash still in the hands of Adobe. The software maker took Macromedia are transferred for about $ 3.4 billion. The animation software got a spot in the Creative Suite software bundle called Adobe Flash and the plug-in to play files now called Adobe Flash Player.

The popularity of Flash grew further under the care of Adobe. In the year of the takeover was founded YouTube, which quickly grew into the largest video platform on the Internet and Flash to display videos used. Until 2007 there was actually no cloud in the sky; virtually any computer could handle Flash websites and made frequent use of the technique. Who online watched a movie, did almost always with the Flash Player and also playing online games or displaying animated ads went almost without exception by using the plug-in. Flash was additionally used regularly for designing websites, motion menus, and numerous animation effect. However, in most cases, prevented the user from websites not good.

Steve Jobs Flash declares war

Apple was the first major company that openly declared war on Adobe Flash, the technology does not support on its iPhone and iPad. In 2007, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone and the lack of flash was seen by many as a failure, because the plug-in had taken such an important place on the Internet. A movie watching via the browser was often not possible and websites that use Flash for the interface, were not functioning or bad.

Especially with the announcement of the iPad in 2010, there was much criticism of the lack of Flash. Apple introduced its tablet as a device that could keep the full Internet “in your hands” and the lack of Flash support in line according to many people not with that idea. Steve Jobs defended Apple’s choice in an open letter, in which he called Flash too unstable and too slow for mobile use. He also criticized the fact that Flash is not an open source technology, and called for using HTML5, which at that time was still in development. Jobs closed his letter with the advice to Adobe to focus more on HTML5 and the past, ie Flash, to leave behind.

Steve Jobs iPad 1 2010 Steve Jobs presents the iPad without Flash.

Adobe was obviously not even bring the criticism of Apple and wanted after conquering the desktop market Flash also to mobile platforms. In 2009, announced the company version 10.1 of Flash and it was associated with beta support for Android, Symbian OS, Windows Mobile and Palm Web OS. Blackberry would follow a year later. But Flash was never a success on mobile operating systems, and Adobe quickly threw the towel into the ring. And a half years after the announcement was clear that the development of Flash for mobile phones stop put would be. In 2012, Adobe withdrew permanently plug Flash for Android out and removed the app from the App Store.

1.3 billion computers with Flash

Adobe announces proud that more than a billion desktops worldwide use of Adobe Flash Player. On the download page even read that the software is installed on 1.3 billion systems. That makes developing in Flash attractive because potential reach is huge. The reason why Flash has become so great that the platform and browser independent works. Whether you’re running Windows, OS X or Linux, Chrome, Safari or Edge: Flash works the same everywhere, both old and new versions of operating systems and browsers.

A striking fact that Adobe also reported on its statistics page, which is more than 400 million of the computers with Flash within six weeks after the release of an update this install. That would mean that 600 million computers are not updated within six weeks and therefore are vulnerable to security holes. The computers that do provide for the said period of an update, despite a number of weeks vulnerable.

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