Netscape Navigator – the browser that started it all – turns 20 article tells that it was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play: Netscape Navigator, the browser credited with taking the World Wide Web into the mainstream, was released twenty years ago yesterday, on October 13th 1994. The anniversary celebrated yesterday is of the 0.9 release of the browser which, as this Mosaic Communications Corporation press release records.
Mosaic proudly proclaimed the software could run on “Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and X Window System environments” and “can be obtained via anonymous FTP”. The beta was free for personal use.
Mosaic popularized the concept of graphical browsing: Netscape was the first Internet tool that lets the average user with a 14.4 kb modem work with the Internet interactively. The release of Netscape arguably gave the Web the momentum to shrug off WAIS, Gopher, and other rivals. Mosaic eventually changed its name to Netscape. It was the flagship product of the Netscape Communications Corp and was the dominant web browser in terms of usage share in the 1990s, but by 2002 its usage had almost disappeared. AOL stopped development of Netscape Navigator on 28 December 2007.
In 1998, Netscape announced future versions of its browser would be open source, a decision that ultimately spawned the Mozilla Foundation and that lead to Firefox browser still so widely used today. Firefox is pretty much completely rewritten from scratch. It eventually became clear that the open sourced Netscape Communicator 4.0 browser was too difficult to develop, and the open source development shifted to a next generation browser built from scratch using the newly built Gecko layout engine.