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Adobe Introduces Reader 5.1

Apparently, Adobe heeded the outcry of the multimedia industry and decided to bite the bullet when it introduced PDF 1.4 (Reader 5.1). For the majority of the Acrobat developer community, Reader 5.1 became the turning point for the rich-media PDF. The JavaScript code was robust and solid, and the free version of Reader 5.1 allowed QuickTime video to be streamed into the PDF from a CD, from a corporate network, or even from the Internet via a Web server.

Now the multimedia industry returned to PDF for a second look to see whether there was a viable solution to Macromedia Director, and decided that there was. The Adobe–Macromedia multimedia battle had begun.

At the turn of the millennium, the Internet was just starting to become a powerful force for delivering multimedia. The majority of North America was still using a dial-up connection, so streaming video into a PDF was not reasonable. Corporations and schools were experimenting with PDF and QuickTime video on internal networks and CDs, but few commercial titles were being released using that format.

Director had become the preferred application for authoring interactive CDs, and every multimedia company had at least one experienced staff member to create Director-based presentations. Macromedia altered Director to produce small interactive "Shockwave" animations with the hope that they would find a place on the Internet—this was the first incarnation of the SWF Flash format that is so popular today.

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