When I first cut my teeth as a web designer in the late 1990s, the web industry was mired in the first round of the “browser wars”, with Netscape Navigator pitted against Internet Explorer for market dominance. Netscape and Microsoft tried to outdo each other by enhancing their web browser with proprietary features and HTML elements that were unavailable in their competitor’s product. For developers wanting to build complex DHTML websites that worked in both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer the only option was to fork their code, maintaining an entirely separate code base for each browser, and essentially doubling their workload.
It was in this context that Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash, and before that FutureSplash) first came to prominence. The Flash plugin worked identically in all web browsers, offering a way free from the browser wars and liberating developers from the tit-for-tat power struggle between Netscape and Microsoft. Build once, view anywhere. Bliss! Not only that, Flash (along with its sibling Shockwave) brought rich interactive animations to the web, a temptation that was too great for web designers to ignore.