Browser Wars: Brief History

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There has been a good deal of browsers in past. Most of them admitted defeated, few that left include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, etc. Unlike Chrome’s extensions, browsers don’t seem to be in big quantity, at least to me. But apparently, there had been many web browsers in past. Through the inevitable process of evolution, today’s browsers possess the power they do because of past browsers. The quality of usability and performance has also evolved significantly. All credits to? To applications of past.

There’s something called browser wars. To define the term, it is basically wars of competence, performance, useful features and usability between browsers. It’s competition for dominance in usage share of browsers. Internet Explorer’s battle against Netscape’s Navigator is said to be the first of browser wars, which took place in late 1990’s. These wars continued with the decline of IE in 2003 and rise in popularity of browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari.


WWW, as we know it, is an Internet-based hypertext system. It came into being in late 1980s and early 1990s. Inventor of Internet Tim Berners-Lee developed the first web browser named WorldWideWeb, later renamed to Nexus and released it to NeXTstep platform in 1991. Many browsers happened to be developed in 1992 and 1993. To name a few, Line Mode Browser, ViolaWWW, Erwise and MidasWWW, Cello,Lynx,tkWWW and Mosaic. Most of these were simple HTML viewers and utilized external helpers to show multimedia content. Mosaic got popular especially in 1994. Many assumed it to be the standard browser for browsing the web. Mosaic belonged to National Center of Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). One of Mosaic developers Marc Andreeson happened to have developed Netscape browser, which was well ahead of its counterparts in terms of user interface and thus it exploded (in a good way!).

With the arrival of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 1.0 in market in 1995, Netscape faced OKAY competition. First browser war between IE & Netscape set the base of browser wars, still played by Chrome, Firefox, etc. Microsoft arrived on the scene by licensing Mosaic and releasing IE 1.0 with Windows 95 Plus! Pack in August of 1995. Just three months later, IE 2.0 was given as a free download. Microsoft played cleverly by giving valuable stuff for free to all Windows users, unlike Netscape. This gave IE a great installation base.

Over the next few years, many other browsers will come and go.

A funny thing that took place in October 1997 with the release of Internet Explorer 4.0 was that release party placed a ten-feet-tall letter “e” logo in San Francisco. The Netscape employees showing up on work the next morning found a giant “e” logo with the sign that read “From the IE team … We Love You”. Netscape employees placed a giant Mozilla dinosaur mascot over “e” logo, with sign saying “Netscape 72, Microsoft 18”, representing the market usage share.

Eventually, Netscape was defeated by Internet Explorer. Netscape was open-sourced and browser was entrusted to a then-new non-profit foundation called Mozilla Foundation, which was driven to develop a Netscape successor. Now this browser became the focus of The Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla added several features notably a search bar and released Firefox 1.0 on November 9, 2004. From here on, second browser war would began between Firefox+Opera (joined hands) and Internet Explorer 6.0.

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