The Internet Archive is preserving classic Flash media

The big picture: Most major tech players have already distanced themselves from Flash, and others are planning to do so in the near future. Indeed, it’s the end of the line for Adobe’s embattled multimedia software platform… or is it?

The fine folks over at the Internet Archive can’t stand to see history fade away, no matter how bad it might have been. They’ve embarked on a journey to add “Flash” support to the Internet Archive’s Emularity system, which lets select Flash items play in your browser as if you had a Flash plugin installed.

As of writing, they’ve gathered more than 1,000 hand-picked Flash items showcasing the best of what the format had to offer.

The Internet Archive is using an in-development Flash emulator called Ruffle for its archival purposes. The team admits that the emulator isn’t 100 percent compatible, but is capable of playing a large portion of historical Flash animation in web browsers smoothly and accurately.

Flash became one of the leading platforms for artists, web creators and small studios in the late 90s and early 2000s due to its widespread popularity and ease of use. Things took a turn south, however, when Adobe acquired flash in 2005 and significant changes to the platform were made.

Backward compatibility became a problem, as did significant security concerns. Emerging social networks were adverse to the idea of Flash being used in their walled gardens. Apple’s Steve Jobs refused to allow Flash content on the iPhone from the very beginning, eventually voicing support for alternative web technologies like HTML5.

Adobe eventually gave in, saying in 2011 that it would stop developing Flash for mobile. The move away from Flash snowballed from that point, with most major tech companies having already moved on.

Image credit: monticello

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