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Internet Archive Now Preserving Flash Animations

Credit: Unsplash

The history of the early 2000s must be preserved.

As the end of the year encroaches, Adobe has gotten more and more insistent that I uninstall Flash from my computer. I know in my heart that it’s the smart thing to do as there are some actual security problems with it, but the idea of losing the medium that brought me so many fun memories in my youth makes me genuinely sad. Several projects are underway to preserve as many prolific flash animations and games as possible, though it’s a bit of a complicated process since it necessitates using Flash without actually using flash. The Internet Archive has a tool at their disposal, though, to make this process a little smoother.

The Internet Archive, whom you may know as the creators of past-webpage viewer The Wayback Machine, has begun collecting classic Flash animations and games for the purpose of historical preservation. Thanks to their own efforts and contributions from collaborators, they’ve already managed to archive over 1,000 Flash files that can be freely perused. But how can you view all of these Flash files if Flash itself is out of the question? The Archive’s secret weapon is Ruffle, a currently in-development Flash emulator that the Archive has incorporated into their system.

Through Ruffle, you can view and interact with Flash files without exposing yourself to Flash’s inherit security risks. The only downside is that since the emulator is still in its developmental stages, it’s not 100% compatible with Flash. As such, any Flash files made after 2013 may not emulate properly. Still, that’s at least a good decade worth of content that very much deserves to be preserved in some form, and ideally at some point the developers will get it working with the later stuff.

Flash was a vital component of internet culture in the early 2000s. In the words of The Internet Archive’s Jason Scott, Flash “allowed a beginner or novice to make surprisingly complicated and flexible graphic and sound shows that ran beautifully on web browsers without requiring deep knowledge of individual operating systems and programming languages.”