History of the World Wide Web

History of the Internet

History Of Email

History Of The World Wide Web

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If email can be credited with making the Internet so popular, browsers definitely deserve the credit for making the Internet or rather – the World Wide Web - so easy to use! With the technological revolution there was no doubt that all the techies or computer junkies would stay updated with everything that was going on in the Internet world. 

Email, FTP, dial-up, bandwidth, browser, USENET, chat, discussion boards, POP, SMTP, and a host of other Internet related terms were being tossed about with little care for the uninitiated. A layman who knew little about computers and even less about the Internet had no hope of staying in the conversation. Until the advent of browsers. That changed everything.

With the advent of browsers, the layman finally got a chance to acquaint himself and be a part of the technological revolution. Tim Berners-Lee who pioneered the hypertext method of information sharing also created the first ever web browser – WorldWideWeb in 1990. This browser was used at CERN to handle the rather large telephone directory since it only supported text.

It was the integration of graphics into the browser that took it to a completely new level. The first graphical browser was NCSA Mosaic version 1.0 released in September 1993. Mosaic took over the browser market in one fell sweep though to be fair, the market was rather small at that time. Marc Andreessen who was credited with developing Mosaic quit NCSA and formed his own company, which was to become the famous Netscape Communications Corporation. 

Netscape 1 released in December 1994 was the successor to Mosaic and a revolutionary step forward. It put Mosaic out of the running and dominated the browser market from 1994 to 1997. It could support multiple TCP/IP connections and even cookies. It even had support for the basic < CENTER > HTML tag.

Netscape 1 was in fact sold for a price except to a few select audiences like teachers and students who could use it for free. This helped increase Netscape’s popularity while still providing income for the parent company. Netscape 2 made an appearance in March 1996 and Netscape 3 in August 1996. Netscape 3 was considered the supreme browser and any other browser had to use it as a benchmark.

Microsoft was hitherto not really a player but decided to make a hasty entrance lest it miss the Internet bus altogether. A quick purchase from Spyglass Inc. and Microsoft launched Internet Explorer. While IE1 and 2 were nothing to write home about, IE3 was a decent browser that could stand up to Netscape. 

The Explorer market was growing but still could not touch Netscape in terms of popularity. The Netscape – Explorer war was inevitable. The two browser giants started ignoring the W3C recommendations and standards and went a step beyond to customize their own browser. Neither supported the other and the consumer was unsure whom to support. It was in 1998 that Microsoft played its trump card. It started bundling Internet Explorer along with its Windows OS.

For novice users, being able to log on to the Internet with a few clicks of the button was a far easier option than downloading and installing Netscape. Despite Netscape open sourcing its product and creating Mozilla, there really was no turning back. Internet Explorer had won the game, set and match!

Other than Netscape and IE there were a few other browsers that deserve a mention. Opera 3 launched in December 1997 had great CSS support and was a very light browser to download and run. The WebTV browser also had potential and gained some media attention but never really took off. It was bought by Microsoft that continues to improve it even today.

A new era in the browser wars was launched in November 2000 with Konqueror. An independent browser originally for Linux users, it supports all modern technologies equally well. The release of Safari in Jan 2003 based on Konqueror’s libraries issues a new challenge to Microsoft. IE’s domination of the MAC has been shattered beyond repair. On Windows what happens next remains to be seen.

 

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