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The Internet Archive Preserves Flash Animations and Games



(Image: Internet Archive)

Adobe is killing Flash by the end of 2020, but Flash animations and games will live on.

The Internet Archive is using an in-development Flash emulator called Ruffle to help users play historical Flash items in their browsers without having to use a plugin. The emulator isn’t perfect, but it can run a large number of Flash animations smoothly. 

Here are some of the best Flash items in the Archive’s collection, and here’s a more extensive collection of the hundreds of items uploaded so far. 

As the Internet Archive explains, Flash emerged (alongside Shockwave) in the early 1990s amid a need for animation, sound, and greater audio/video flexibility in webpages.

“Flash had many things going for it—the ability to compress down significantly made it a big advantage in the dial-up web era. It could also shift playback quality to adjust to a wide variety of machines,” Jason Scott, Software Curator at Internet Archive, writes in a blog post. “Finally, it was incredibly easy to use—creation software allowed a beginner or novice to make surprisingly complicated and flexible graphic and sound shows that ran beautifully on web browsers without requiring deep knowledge of individual operating systems and programming languages.”

Flash’s slide began after Adobe acquired it from Macromedia in 2005. There were security and compatibility issues as Flash grew. But most notable was an April 2010 public letter from Steve Jobs, who took issue with the technical and security downsides of Flash and described it as a remnant of “the PC era.”

A year later, Adobe said it would stop developing the Flash plugin for mobile web browsers. In July 2017, the company announced it would discontinue Flash entirely by 2020. 

“More than just dropping support, the loss of the player means the ability of anyone to experience Flash is dropping as well,” Scott writes. “Supporting Ruffle is our line in the sand from oblivion’s gaze.”

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