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In computing, a plug-in (or plugin, add-in, addin, add-on, or addon) is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program. When a program supports plug-ins, it enables customization.


Digital Darkroom from Silicon Beach Software was the first Macintosh program to incorporate a plug-in architecture in 1988. Ed Bomke at Silicon Beach is credited with having coined the term "plug-in".[1][2][3] The first application from Adobe Systems to incorporate plug-ins is Adobe Photoshop 1.0.[4] Adobe began the Adobe Developers Association to provide software development kits to facilitate the creation of plug-ins and other software extensions.[5]

Web browsers historically allowed executables as plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash Player to play back Flash content and Java virtual machine for applets, though they have now been mostly deprecated due to concerns of internet security.[6]


  1. Electronic Darkrooms Perform Photo Retouching, Enhancement Traditionally done in labs, Shutterbug. 1999-12. Archived 2008-11-03.
  2. Photoshop Compatible Plug-Ins, Shutterbug. 1999-12-01. Archived 2008-11-03.
  3. Monochrome Plug-Ins; From Color To Black & White In A Few Steps by Joe Farace, Shutterbug. 2009-02-01. Archived 2008-11-03.
  4. Thomas and John Knoll by Jeff Schewe, Photoshop News, originally published in PEI Magazine. 2000-09.
  5. Adobe Developer Relations, Adobe Systems. Archived 1996-11-21.
  6. Google and Mozilla pull the plug on Adobe Flash: Tech giants disable the program on browsers following 'critical' security flaw by Victoria Woollaston, Daily Mail. 2015-07-14.

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