“Web Browsing” Celebrates its 15th Anniversary
Posted Thursday, May 7, 2009 by
In 2006, computer geeks worldwide celebrated the 15th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web. However, this year, 2009, marks the real 15th anniversary of the Web––at least the Web as most people know it. That’s because it has now been 15 years since the release of the first Netscape Navigator Web browser, the invention that made the Web accessible to the average computer user.
A Bit of History
Many people think the Internet is a fairly recent invention, but its roots actually date all the way back to the early 1960s. It was the height of the Cold War, and the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) needed a way for computers at major universities to communicate with each other. The “ARPANET” solution they developed was very technical, completely text-based and unavailable to the general public.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, private companies began to use ARPANET-like technologies to offer computer timesharing services to individuals. By the mid-1980s, companies like CompuServe, Prodigy and America Online began to offer content-driven services––including news, weather, special interest information, email, etc.––to paying customers. But none of these services could interact with one another. (Example: If you subscribed to AOL, you could only send email to other AOL customers.)
Then, in 1991, two very important things happened. First was the release of “Gopher,” a technology that could quickly and (relatively) easily access files from another linked computer anywhere in the world. The second––and perhaps most important––event was the creation of the World Wide Web (WWW), developed by Tim Berners-Lee of CERN, a Swiss-based particle physics laboratory. The “Web” provided the world with a single, expandable infrastructure that both information suppliers and users could easily access.
The “Information Superhighway” was finally in place. Now all people needed was a vehicle on which to drive it.
The Modern “Web” is Born
For the next two years, computer users struggled to access the growing number of websites popping up on the Internet. And then, in 1994, a new start-up company called Mosaic released the Netscape Navigator, a user-friendly “Web Browser” that allowed users to easily connect to any site on the World Wide Web. Unlike past technologies, Netscape could easily handle graphics as well as text, and it displayed information the same way no matter what kind of system the user was on. Sold as a stand-alone program, Netscape Navigator quickly had a market share estimated at close to 90%!
The Death of Netscape
Today, Netscape Navigator is virtually unknown. Microsoft all but killed it in the mid-1990s by bundling its own Web browser, Internet Explorer, with its software, basically distributing it for free. It’s now estimated that only 1% of Web uses now use Netscape under that brand name.
But while Netscape may be forgotten, it’s not gone. It lives on in the form of the Mozilla Firefox browser, which has built on Netscape’s technology.
Interested in a Career in Information Technology?
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