What I admire most about Disney is their history of innovation. Most people recognize how innovative their Imagineering group is, but I feel Disney Online deserves just as much credit.
Disney Online either pioneered or invested in up-and-coming technology initiatives in the world in the mid-90s. The relationship between Disney and its use of Flash actually dates back to 1995, when TWDC began to use FutureSplash (which later became Flash.)
Disney Daily Blast was an early subscription service for families that used the early Flash version for its animations and the UI. Daily Blast was first launched in 1995, using a combination of Flash and Java.
They were also using Macromedia Shockwave for other websites at Disney Online. This later leads to Macromedia’s acquisition of FutureSplash at the end of 1996.
From FutureSplash founder John Gay: “Our big success came in August of 1996. Microsoft was working on MSN and wanted to create the most TV-like experience on the Internet. They became big fans of FutureSplash and adopted the technology. I’m still amazed that they made their launch of MSN dependent on a new animation technology from a six-person company!
In November of 1996, Macromedia had heard enough about us through their relationship with Disney and approached us about working together. We had been running FutureWave for four years with a total investment of $500,000. The idea of having a larger company’s resources to help us get FutureSplash established seemed like a good one. So in December 1996, we sold FutureWave Software to Macromedia, and FutureSplash Animator became Macromedia Flash 1.0.”