Monday, October 13, 2014

Netscape Navigator turns 20

I risk dating myself, but I remember the first time I used the Netscape Navigator browser to surf the then-radical World Wide Web. It wasn't my first browser experience, mind you - I had been using the character-based Lynx for some time, and although the experience was somewhat lame, It was still something that moved the soul.

Still, installing Netscape from that stack of 1.44-megabyte diskettes and firing it up was a revelation. Dusty old DOS was tossed aside in favor of a graphical view of the Web. It was laughable by today's standards, but compared to what we'd been using all along - and let's not even talk about the non-webby services like WAIS, Archie, and Usenet that dominated the online world then - it nevertheless rocked our world. Well, mine, anyway.

Netscape Navigator was released 20 years ago today, on October 13, 1994. It quickly became the browser of choice and for a while, seemed to have caught then-dominant Microsoft off-guard. We all know what happened next, and Netscape became the first high-profile flameout of the commercial Internet era. Lessons learned in its rise and fall were ignored by virtually every dot-com startup over the next six or seven years, and to this day there are those who still wish Netscape had prevailed in those early Internet-borne battles.

Like me. And, if we're being honest with each other, I still don't get why anyone uses Internet Explorer. At least willingly.

Ah, good times. Who says tech is boring?

Here's to the next 20. It almost boggles the mind to imagine how we'll look back at today when we finally get there.

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