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Macromedia was an American graphics and web development software company (19922005) headquartered in San Francisco, California that produced such products as Flash and Dreamweaver. Its rival, Adobe Systems, acquired Macromedia on December 3, 2005 and controls the line of Macromedia products.


Macromedia originated with the merger of Authorware Inc. (makers of Authorware) and MacroMind-Paracomp (makers of MacroMind Director) that was announced in March 1992.[1] The name was derived from a proposed multimedia file format.[2] The combined company's IPO raised about US$27 million on NASDAQ on December 14, 1993.[3]

Made with Macromedia logo 1992

Logo for applications authored with Macromedia Director from 1992 to 1997.

Macromedia Director, an interactive multimedia-authoring tool used to make CD-ROMs and information kiosks, served as Macromedia's flagship product until the mid-1990's. As the CD-ROM market began to decline and the World Wide Web gained in popularity, Macromedia created Shockwave, a Director-viewer plugin for web browsers, but decided it also needed to expand its market by branching out into web-native media tools.[citation needed] CompuServe was the first company to integrate Shockwave. In October 1995, Macromedia licensed Sun's Java; Sun worked with Macromedia to integrate Java into Macromedia's multimedia software. By 2002, Macromedia produced more than 20 products and had 30 offices in 13 different countries.[4]


In January 1995, Macromedia acquired Altsys Corporation after Adobe Systems announced a merger with Altsys’ business partner, the Aldus Corporation.[5] Altsys was the developer of the vector-drawing program, FreeHand, which had been licensed by Aldus for marketing and sales. Because of the competition with the similar Adobe Illustrator, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint of Adobe Systems on October 18, 1994 ordering a divestiture of FreeHand back to Altsys.[6] With Macromedia’s acquisition of Altsys, it received FreeHand thus expanding its product line of multimedia graphics software to include illustration and design graphics software. FreeHand's vector graphics rendering engine and other software components within the program would prove useful to Macromedia in the development of technologies to support its web strategy.

To jumpstart its web strategy further,[citation needed] Macromedia made two acquisitions in 1996. First, Macromedia acquired FutureWave Software, makers of FutureSplash Animator, an animation tool which FutureWave Software had originally developed for pen-based computing devices. Because of the small size of the FutureSplash viewer application, it was particularly suited for download over the Web, where most users, at the time, had low-bandwidth connections. Macromedia renamed Splash to Macromedia Flash, and following the lead of Netscape, distributed the Flash Player as a free browser plugin in order to quickly gain market share. As of 2005, more computers worldwide had the Flash Player installed than any other Web media format, including Java, QuickTime, Real Networks and Windows Media Player.[7] As Flash matured, Macromedia's focus shifted from marketing it as a graphics and media tool to promoting it as a Web application platform, adding scripting and data access capabilities to the player while attempting to retain its small footprint.

Made with Macromedia logo 1997

Logo for applications authored with Macromedia Director from 1997 to 2005.

Also in 1996, Macromedia acquired iBand, maker of the fledgling Backstage HTML authoring-tool and application-server. Macromedia developed a new HTML-authoring tool, Macromedia Dreamweaver, around portions of the Backstage codebase and released the first version in 1997. At the time, most professional web authors preferred to code HTML by hand using text editors because they wanted full control over the source. Dreamweaver addressed this with its "Roundtrip HTML" feature, which attempted to preserve the fidelity of hand-edited source code during visual edits, allowing users to work back and forth between visual and code editing. Over the next few years Dreamweaver became widely adopted among professional web authors, though many still preferred to hand-code, and Microsoft FrontPage remained a strong competitor among amateur and business users.

Macromedia continued on the merger and acquisition trail: in December 1999, it acquired traffic analysis software company Andromedia. Web development company Allaire was acquired in 2001 and Macromedia added several popular server and Web developments portfolio, including ColdFusion, a web application server based on the CFML language, JRun, a Java EE application server, and HomeSite, an HTML code editor that was also bundled with Dreamweaver.

In 2003, Macromedia acquired the web conferencing company Presedia and continued to develop and enhance their Flash-based online collaboration and presentation product offering under the brand Breeze.[8] Later that year, Macromedia also acquired help authoring software company eHelp Corporation whose products included RoboHelp And RoboDemo (now Captivate). Many of the developers of RoboHelp went on to form MadCap Software which is a competitor in the help-authoring space.


On April 18, 2005, Adobe Systems announced an agreement to acquire Macromedia in a stock swap valued at about $3.4 billion on the last trading day before the announcement. The acquisition took place on December 3, 2005, and Adobe integrated the company's operations, networks, and customer-care organizations shortly thereafter.[9] Bruce Chizen, the CEO of Adobe at the time, stated that it was "all about growth." However, the deal was also a defensive maneuver against the influence of Microsoft, with Chizen saying, "They have a $40 billion monopoly with unlimited resources, I'll never not worry about them."[10]


On August 22, 1997, stockholders filed a class-action lawsuit in the California Superior Court in San Francisco, "accusing Macromedia and five executives including chairman, CEO, and former president, John Colligan of misleading stockholders on the company's product success and financial health and of engaging in insider trading during the class period of April 18, 1996 to January 9, 1997". A similar suit had been filed in July.[11]




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Merger builds multimedia powerhouse by Jeannette Borzo, InfoWorld. 1992-03-09.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Macromind Proposes Media Format by Paul Worthington, InfoWorld, p.5. 1990-11-05.
  3. Macromedia Inc. Completes Initial Public Offering With Sale of 2,250,000 Shares of Common Stock, Macromedia. 1993-12-14. Archived 1999-09-09.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Macromedia Company History. Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
  5. "Macromedia’s purchase of Altsys raises questions", InfoWorld., 1994-11-07. Retrieved on 2011-02-11. 
  6. . Federal Trade Commission Decisions, Complaint 118 F.,. Retrieved on 2011-02-11.
  7. Flash Player in 2005. ZDNet. Retrieved on 2008-12-26.
  8. Macromedia buys Presedia by Dennis Sellers, Macworld. 2003-01-17.
  9. Adobe Completes Acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe Systems. 2005-12-05. Archived 2005-12-07.
  10. Adobe's Deal for Macromedia May Help It Fend Off Microsoft by Laurie J. Flynn, The New York Times. 2005-12-12.
  11. Investors sue Macromedia again. cNet (1997-09-04). Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
  12. Marc Canter with Memories of Scoble, Winer and The Internet of Things by Luke Lefler, The New Stack. 2014-11-18.
  13. But pressure to go public still remains by Jon Swartz, MacWEEK vol.7 no.2. 1993-01-01.
  14. Bud Colligan, NNDB. Accessed 2011-02-17.
  15. Bud Colligan, CrunchBase. Accessed 2011-02-17.
  16. Inside Phil Schiller, AppleInsider. 2020-07-05.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Robert K. Burgess, NNDB. Accessed 2011-02-17.
  18. Robert K. Burgess, Forbes. Archived 2010-03-27.
  19. Norm Meyrowitz, at LinkedIn. Accessed 2020-07-29.
  20. Macromedia Names Stephen Elop Chief Executive Office; Rob Burgess Continues As Chairman. Macromedia (January 19, 2005). Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
  21. Speakers, Macromedia Web World. Archived 2003-08-06.
  22. Jeremy Allaire, Macromedia. Archived 2003-08-07.
  23. Kevin Lynch, Adobe Chief Technology Officer, To Join Apple by Poornima Gupta, Reuters, Huffington Post. 2013-05-20.
  24. Executive Bios, Macromedia. Archived 2004-06-04.
  25. Macromedia Names Stephen Elop as Chief Operating Officer; Core Leadership Team Broadens with New Marketing and Sales Executives.. Goliath Business Knowledge (July 28, 2004). Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
  26. How will Stephen Elop fare at Microsoft? by Eric Lai, ComputerWorld. 2008-01-11. Archived 2008-01-15.

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