An internet plugin that was responsible for some of the beloved viral animations on the Internet has been officially discontinued.
On January 1, the software company Adobe stopped supporting and updating Flash Player.
The company required users to uninstall the program before it banned all Flash content starting January 12th.
Flash was first released in 1996, and was useful in allowing content creators to create and share animations and games that could be downloaded quickly over a dial-up internet connection.
It also helped early versions of websites like YouTube Stream high-quality videos.
But it has been plagued by security concerns and struggled to keep up with the development of internet technology and the movement of users to cell phones to surf the web.
In 2010, Steve Jobs wrote a scathing open letter entitled Ideas on Flash, criticizing the program and explaining why it should not be allowed to run on Apple products.
Other brands have kept themselves away and in November 2011, Adobe announced that it would end support for Flash for mobile web browsers after various issues.
But the final blow came in 2014 when HTML5 was released, a program that provides many of the same functions as Flash but does not require users to install a specific plugin.
As a result, Flash’s popularity began to wane.
That year, 80% of Chrome users were visiting flash sites, but in 2017 Google said that number had dropped to less than 17%.
Big companies like YouTube, Facebook, and Netflix continued to stop using Flash and in 2017, Adobe announced that Stop it completely in 2020.
Many mourn the demise of the software that became synonymous with the early days of the internet.
Meanwhile, other netizens have raised concerns that years of content will be wasted when Flash goes down forever.
Developers are working on alternative software that can support legacy Flash content, and a blog called The Internet Archive currently hosts more than 2,000 items.