via Cold Hard Flash:
"The year was 1993, and Charlie Jackson, Jonathan Gay, and Michelle Welsh had established FutureWave Software, and with an initial investment of $500,000 they set their sights on the emerging market of pen computing. From their little office on Vickers Street in San Diego, the team hoped to make drawing on the computer easier than drawing on paper.
Their first release was called SmartSketch, and in late 1994, Gay posted to a Usenet board that “experienced computer artists will find that the flexibility of SmartSketch’s free form approach to drawing makes it an excellent companion to their high-end drawing application.” Due to some market shifts, the software didn’t sell very well, but after listening to the marketplace, they decided to incorporate animation into the product. By the summer of 1996, the team was ready to ship a new version, which they called FutureSplash Animator."
If you read the article/interview, you'll see that Macromedia eventually bought them out and released Flash in 1997. The funny thing is that I remember being 15 or so and seeing a half hour informercial on TV for a program called SmartSketch. At the time, I only had Clarisworks Paint on my Macintosh Performa, hated drawing with a mouse, and hated how it looked pixelated. Seeing someone draw with a pen that translated to a computer screen and created a smooth line absolutely amazed me. I wanted it!
So it was fun for me to learn that Flash and SmartSketch are actually one in the same. And one final note...you hear so many people complain to the contrary...it turns out Flash was intended to be used for animation after all.