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Netscape Navigator, 1994-2007 - Riffs and Licks
Netscape Navigator, 1994-2007
Time Warner has announced that it will stop supporting or updating Netscape Navigator. I didn't know it was still being produced.

Back in the dark ages, before "the Internet" and "the Web" were synonymous to most people (before most people had ever heard of either, actually), when Bill Gates was still laughing off the Internet and the founders of Google were probably still in high school, the dominant web browser was NCSA Mosaic, produced by the good folks at uiuc.edu, and available for free.

Then some of those folks left and started their own company, which they renamed Netscape after the University of Illinois objected to their calling it Mosaic. The release of Netscape 1.1 in late 1994 was a milestone; the first time that HTML tables had been properly implemented in a web browser. Among other things, this meant that publishers could put ads next to articles. Suddenly, we who were talking about web publishing had a business model.

I can't find an image of it, but after they changed the name of the company they adopted one of the single ugliest corporate logos ever, a big blue embossed N, that when the browser was loading a page, reversed perspective, sinking into the page and then coming back up, so that it was universally known as the "breathing N."

By 1996 or so Internet Explorer was already edging it out, and I now remember Netscape mainly as a pain in the ass, with its horribly broken Javascript interpreter and non-standard silliness like "server push." Between Netscape's bugginess and IE's deliberate disregard of standards (and its bugginess) the late 90s were not a fun time to build fancy web applications that actually worked for the majority of your users.

But Netscape had a good run, managed to shake up Microsoft when it was nearly all-powerful, and was for a while the biggest news in the industry.


4 comments or Leave a comment
doodlegoat From: doodlegoat Date: December 30th, 2007 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: December 30th, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Here's a screenshot of the original Netscape with the ugly logo:

It won't work with most modern web sites because it can't handle UTF-encoded text. But http://ncsa.uiuc.edu is still plain old ASCII.
rednoodlealien From: rednoodlealien Date: December 30th, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
We continued to use Netscape as our standard web browser at work for quite a long time. I don't know, early 2000s or so.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: December 30th, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the last version we supported at all was 4.x. After that it had fallen low enough in the browser stats that we started ignoring it. I think at some point AOL stopped using it as its default browser? I don't remember.
4 comments or Leave a comment