Two men wrote the original Adobe Flash in 1993 – where are they now?

With the announcement last month that Adobe are no longer providing certifications for flash on Android 4.1, it seems clear.

Flash is dying.

Is Flash Dead?

Sure it will take time and it will remain a part of the web for years to come, but if you admit defeat on mobile these days then it’s time to get your affairs in order.

It’s kind of sad really, because there was a time when Flash was awesome. Flash enabled waves of innovation and inspired a whole generation of programmers and designers to push the boundaries of the web.

The signs of Flash’s demise got us thinking. Where are the creators of flash now? Are they still cutting code, or are they chilling on a beach in Tahiti sipping Mai Tais?

We did some investigating…

Who built the software that eventually turned into Macromedia/Adobe Flash?

What we know as Flash today started out in 1993 as SmartSketch, an illustration program for the stylus-driven Tablet PC. Smartsketch was created by Jonathan Gay and Robert Tatsumi at Future Wave Software, and was marketed as a better way to draw on the computer.

Jonathan Gay and Robert Tatsumi

Jonathan Gay (left) and Robert Tatsumi (right) – founders of Flash

The next version of the product — renamed FutureSplash Animator in 1996 — supported animations and came with a browser plug-in that let people watch animations embedded within web pages.

In 1996 Macromedia purchased Future Wave and renamed FutureSplash Animator to Flash. Finally, Macromedia was acquired by Adobe Systems in 2005 and the product was given its final name of Adobe Flash.

So what happened to Gay and Tatsumi?

Gay and Tatsumi went on to form Greenbox, a company which helps households visualize, understand, and manage their home energy usage and carbon footprint.

Greenbox screen shot

Greenbox was backed with an angel round from the former CEO of Macromedia, Rob Burgess, and former Macromedia CFO Betsey Nelson, before being acquired by Silver Spring Networks in 2009.

Where are they now?

Robert Tatsumi
Robert Tatsumi has stayed on with Silver Spring Networks post-acquisition.
His Linkedin page lists his current role as a “Principle Software Engineer”. His duties include acting as the Lead engineer on the Customer IQ front end utility portal, developed using Python/Django/JQuery.

Seems a bit of an oversight that he doesn’t have his own Wikipedia page – any enterprising soul care to rectify this?


Jonathan Gay
According to an interview given back in 2010, Jonathan is taking a break to explore some interests outside the computer world.
Jonathan Gay
“Right now, my interest is in taking some of the systems experience I have from the software world and applying it to more physical systems. I’m exploring a bit of sustainable agriculture. We have a very small business selling grass-fed beef that we raise direct to consumers.”


So there you have it. From extraordinary software careers that changed the face of the web, Robert and Jonathan have moved on to change everyday lives through sustainable practice – one cutting code and one raising cattle.

Further Reading:
The History of Flash – (Adobe)
Greenbox’s Gurus Are the New Power Rangers – (Entrepreneur)
Silver Spring Snaps Up Greenbox – (Gigaom)

Image credits: Crunchbase, Techhog and Sliced Bread Design.