Flash arrived on the scene as a product called SmartSketch, which was created to make it easier for people to draw and sketch with a computer. It is somewhat ironic the full circle which has formed since Flash's early incarnations, with this book dealing with pen input and Flash.
SmartSketch was a great tool, but the only real way to distribute animation was via CD-ROM or VHS. That was about to change, however. The Internet and the World Wide Web were gaining traction and it seemed that this new pipe could be used to transfer animations and graphics. Work began to make FutureWave's SmartSketch into the animation tool that would also playback within Netscape's new plug-in architecture, which gave web browsers more functionality. SmartSketch was renamed Cel Animator to foster the animation theme, but it was quickly renamed FutureSplash Animator so it would gain more acceptance than simply being associated with cartoons. In 1996, FutureSplash began to ship as a boxed product, and companies such as Microsoft and Disney started to flock to FutureSplash for its television-like animation qualities over limited bandwidth (at the time 9.6kps was fast). In 1996, Macromedia bought FutureSplash and it became Flash 1.0.
We're now six versions of Flash later, and 417,415,830 users (as of January 1, 2002) can view Flash content. Flash is one of the most distributed pieces of software in history and is the most ubiquitous format on the web, along with GIF. Although that seems a fantastic feat, the best is yet to come. With millions of developers creating content with Flash, the next evolution has just begun the new vessels of creativity.
Macromedia has created SDKs (Software Development Kits), which means that device manufacturers and developers of existing and emerging platforms and devices can easily include Flash playback for their devices. This opens up a community of Flash developers to create compelling content and intuitive applications for the next generation of Internet-connected devices (www.macromedia.com/software/flashplayer/licensing/sourcecode/).