Netscape is dead. Long live Netscape.

i-037fa43af020a2260e00ee2ff73f0fc0-netscape.jpgNetscape was the first browser. Then came along Internet Explorer, and Microsoft did all sorts of evil things to Netscape to run it out of existence. But it didn’t work. Netscape continued to exist, and along the way, AOL acquired Netscape as a commercial product, and Mozilla branched off of Netscape as an Open Source product. Mozilla gave birth to Firefox and Swiftfox, and today, Firefox or some form of it rules. Open Source Wins.

Today, AOL has announced that it will no longer develop Netscape.

We can get all weepy and worried about this event, but is is actually incredibly good news. Netscape ushered in, facilitated, caused, whatever adjective you like, both Internet Browsing (which is still there) and the Mozilla Open Source project, which is still there. The fact that the commercial fork of this long and intense effort is the part that is being retired is the best possible outcome.

The browser is dead. Long live the browser.

Comments

  1. #1 Eamon Knight
    December 29, 2007

    Netscape was the first browser.

    When did Netscape first come out? I was using Mosaic on a Silicon Graphics w/s ~1993.

  2. #2 John Lynch
    December 29, 2007

    Yup, Netscape had some predecessors: WorldWideWeb (1991), Erwise (1992), ViolaWWW (1992), and Mosaic (1993).

  3. #3 Magnus
    December 29, 2007

    Netscape was the first browser.

    Well… WorldWideWeb was the first browser, on NeXTSTEP. NCSA Mosaic would have been the first browser with any sort of widespread use, I’d guess.

    Internet Explorer, I believe, got its start from incorporating code from Mosaic; at least earlier versions had notices about some code coming from there. Yay for closed source?

    (Damn, you guys beat me to it.)

  4. #4 Magnus
    December 29, 2007

    Ah, I see now that I was wrong. IE doesn’t contain any code from NCSA Mosaic, but they licensed Spyglass Mosaic. Confusing stuff.

    It would be interesting to know if Netscape Navigator contained any Mosaic code.

  5. #5 Moopheus
    December 29, 2007

    There was also Lynx before there was Netscape.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    December 29, 2007

    Actually, I meant to say “first commercial web browser” … which it is reported to be.

    Lynx does not count as it is a text browser. Seriously.

    Mosaic Netscape was released in 1994. It was later renamed “Netscape” .. this all happened in a matter of months. Mozilla (open source) started in 1998.

  7. #7 Magnus
    December 29, 2007

    Well, next time say “first commercial graphical browser” right away, then. Or “The first browser to make the Web popular” which is what you probably meant anyway.

    (But then again, NCSA Mosaic. At least for a subset of us nerds it was the big one.)

  8. #8 Moopheus
    December 29, 2007

    “Lynx does not count as it is a text browser.”

    It was a browser. For the web. People used it. It counts. You who is always drooling over Linux is going to be fussy about seeing the pretty pictures? Which were kind of limited in the early days anyway.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    December 29, 2007

    Mag: I know, sorry, I should have. But I didn’t mean “to make the Web popular” …

    Morph, no it does not count. A text browser is no more a web browser than going to the kitchen of a restaurant and ‘browsing’ in their fridge is eating a meal at the restaurant.

    If you want to get technical, all of this is irrelevant. The web was Gopher and DECwriter was the first browser.

  10. #10 Magnus
    December 29, 2007

    The web was Gopher and DECwriter was the first browser.

    Damn right.

    The Web was pretty much like a decentralized Gopher in the beginning, as I remember it. And using lynx was actually not so weird as it might seem, as long as you had an external program set up to view the occasional image. (From the Wikipedia article, it seems that WorldWideWeb didn’t have inline graphics either, and Mosaic was first.)

    Anyway, I am looking forward to the flamewar this will inevitably descend into. (You’re wrong about lynx!) :-)

  11. #11 Lucas
    December 29, 2007

    Back in the day (i.e. when I was 12), the web was so simple that having no graphics didn’t remove that much functionality. I found Lynx very useful, and frequently used it on my 486 33mhz running Linux. You might even say I “browsed” the web with it. If only there was some general term for things you browse the web with. Oh well.

  12. #12 Joseph Hewitt
    December 29, 2007

    I remember getting into arguments in the early 90s about whether or not graphical browsers were ever going to take off. At that time, most web pages were almost entirely text anyhow. If you wanted to view a page with a lot of graphics, you’d type in the URL then go get a snack or play a few rounds of ping-pong while it loaded.

    I also remember the day Doom was released, bringing the entire University of Waterloo computing system (and broad swaths of the internet) to a screeching halt.

    Vaya con dios, Netscape.