Internet Archive, the non-profit digital library we know with the Wayback Machine, which keeps records of the old versions of the websites, announced that Adobe will now archive Flash animations and games, ahead of the planned end for the web software Flash, which will be out of use in late 2020. Internet Archive will allow you to play as before, to emulate the content. And it will preserve critical elements of early internet culture for browsers that can no longer run them.
Internet Archive says you can already browse over 1000+ recorded games and animations, including classics like “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” and “All your base are belong to us.” The organization says the emulation will work with an in-development Flash emulator called Ruffle, which is included in its system. Although Ruffle’s developers say the system is currently incompatible with most Flash projects done after 2013, having any amount of access to the culture that defines many people’s adolescence and young adulthood can be considered a gain in terms of conservation.
Flash was critical to creativity in the early years of the web. Pages with boring text and images were animated with Flash. However, as The Internet Archive points out, Flash was really important because it was relatively easy to use:
The software has allowed beginners or novices to make surprisingly complex and flexible graphic or audio demonstrations that work beautifully in web browsers without requiring deep knowledge of individual operating systems and programming languages.
Flash had already passed its expiration date since 2017, when Adobe announced it was ending support. However, with Apple’s announcement in 2010 that it would not allow Flash on iOS, Flash lost much of its importance. Adobe has also decided to end support for Flash on mobile devices. Soon after, Chrome, Edge, and Safari chose HTML5 by default whenever possible, and Flash was also left to rot.
With this new emulation tool, Internet Archive will be like an archive for many endangered Flash works. It seems that this is not the only work aimed at preserving Flash’s legacy. Game publisher Kongregate plans to continue hosting Flash games on its site for the foreseeable future.