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Remembering Netscape and The Birth of the Web 280

bigdaddyhale writes "Picture a world without Google, without eBay or Amazon or broadband, where few people have even heard of IPOs. That was reality just a decade ago. The company that changed it--bringing us into the Internet age--was a brilliant flash in the pan called Netscape. For the tenth anniversary of its IPO, FORTUNE recruited dozens of players to tell the story of Netscape in their own words."
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Remembering Netscape and The Birth of the Web

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:17AM (#13062685)
    Sam Jadallah: There was definitely a buzz at Microsoft about the Internet--we were trying to understand why everybody was getting all hyped up. Certainly for us up in the Northwest, we didn't know what to make of it. It seemed pretty cool, pretty exciting, but really what were you going to do with it? How was it going to change your day-to-day work?

    By doing this [suntimes.com]. :)
    • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:28AM (#13062803)
      How was it going to change your day-to-day work?

      That's what MS has never gotten. Make it part of a person's lifestyle first, then they'll make it part of their work.

      • That's what MS has never gotten. Make it part of a person's lifestyle first, then they'll make it part of their work.

        Hmm.. seems to me they get it quite well, but have an all improved version of it..

        Let others put the efford into making something a part of a person's lifestyle, and then have the 'right' product available once that happened..
    • I was using the Internet way before the commercialization of it...back in the days when "The Internet" consisted mainly of Usenet, IRC and FTP.

      Gopher was a new thing also, but not very big and when Mosaic came out with their World Wide Web I said over and over again how it wasn't ever going to catch on, that it was just a fad.

      Meh...I never said I was a visionary.
      • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:46AM (#13063500) Homepage
        Heh. I remember MS apologists going on even in 1998 and 1999 about how the whole Internet / WWW was just a passing fad that would soon blow over. Didn't Win95 almost ship without a TCP/IP stack?

        At the time though, I though I was a bit slow to catch on myself. Usenet was where everything was happening (For some categories it still is) and I saw Mosaic, but couldn't ever figure out what it was for or even find a working URL. Then some months later, when I did find one, it linked to a handful of sites all linking to each other and containing only a list of the rest of the handful of sites.

        What was the break through for me was that it was similar to Hypercard and I could arrange for material to be put up. Towards the end of 1994, I had arranged for the departmental IT staff to make a web accessible space on one of the departmental unix servers. Then I had HTML versions of previously paper-only tutorials to be posted there. No big deal, I thought. It was for a large class with a few hundred students, but the few that use the tutorials will continue to use the paper copies anyway.

        Wrong. With a major exam on a Monday, starting Friday afternoon, it became progressively harder to reach the servers for anything, even e-mail. By the time Sunday night rolled around, there was effectively a denial of service going on. I had set up the documents with internal links and pared the diagrams down to one or two KB. However, the browser kept polling the server even for the internal links and reloading everything. That clogged the 2Mb/s network.

        That got the attention of the faculty and put WWW on the map, at least for the department. After that, web versions of tutorials were considered essential and an established part of the administration by 1995.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Remembr Lynx and mosaic, anyone? I still use Lynx under Windows and linux, though.
    • While Lynx is cool and all I think it was because of the graphic capacity of the web that made it grow and killed of gopher.
      • No, gopher died because it was archaic and difficult to use. The Web, with or without graphics was much easier to use, especially once the early portals and search engines started popping up. It's the links from one site to another to another to another that killed gopher, not graphics.

        Granted, without graphics, the Web wouldn't have caught on nearly as well, particularly among corporations, but gopher would still have become one of those things that people don't notice on the Internet.
    • by shokk ( 187512 ) <ernieoportoNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:31AM (#13062835) Homepage Journal
      I remember Mosaic being the revolutionary web app, not Netscape! What's this crap? Selective memory, or purposeful revisionism to get AOL sponsorship $$$ for OSTG?
    • I remember lynx. :-)

      Surfing via dialup was/is sooo much faster going text only.

      Actually, now and then I switch to that mode in the latest version of Opera just for a little nostalga.
    • I remember reading so many Usenet articles by people seeking help to run Mosaic on various kinds of computers. Naturally I was curious, and once I saw and ran it for myself, and later Netscape (aka Netscrape), I thought Wow! For me, a physics grad at the time, being able to get text and data plots easily and quickly was revolutionary. Prior to the rise of easy to use graphical web browsers, you had to be privy to the sacred order of the preprint to get the latest research results. Mosaic changed all of that
    • I check Lynx every once in a while. It's not that good anymore when you get pages full of Java and script crap. Checking Lynx also can show you how unnecessary a lot of this Java and script crap is.

      Remember Gopher? If not for the Netscape browser revolution, we might be still using Gopher to this day (and Google would be the top-of-the-line Archie site). Somewhere along the way, someone would have found a way to crap up Gopher with popups and scripts, no doubt.

  • by Saiyine ( 689367 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:17AM (#13062692) Homepage
    Do you remember when it was announced that in Netscape were developing their very own OS?
    • Do you remember when it was announced that in Netscape were developing their very own OS?

      I don't remember anything of the sort. What I do remember was that Netscape was seen as a cross-OS platform of APIs upon which applications could be built. Looking at how things panned out for Netscape, that seems a little odd these days, but its successor Mozilla (not to be confused with the original Netscape codename) has succeeded where Netscape failed. Even using just the standards compliant HTML/CSS/JavaScript e
  • Cern (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nissyen ( 101509 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:18AM (#13062693) Homepage
    How about Cern and Tim Berners-Lee? The initial Netscape release was basically the same as NCSA Mosaic which came before it.
    • by cbv ( 221379 )
      The original browser (already including a built-in editor), written by Tim on a NeXT, had a real stupid name: WorldWideWeb.app ;-)

      It was later renamed to Nexus.app [w3.org].

    • You may have a look at this:
      http://public.web.cern.ch/public/Content/Chapters/ AboutCERN/Achievements/WorldWideWeb/WWW-en.html [web.cern.ch]
      among others, includes the link to the proposal of the WWW made at CERN by Tim in 1989:
      http://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html [w3.org]
      and refined by Robert Cailliau in 1990:
      http://www.w3.org/Proposal.html [w3.org]

      BTW, noone seems to remember about Robert Cailliau, the co-author of the thing...
    • How about Cern and Tim Berners-Lee? The initial Netscape release was basically the same as NCSA Mosaic which came before it.

      Ask the non-geeks around you if they know what Mosaic is. Then ask them when they started using "Netscape".

      Mosaic did it first, yes. But Netscape made the interweb a popular place to be.
      • Big Blue E (Score:3, Funny)

        by DragonHawk ( 21256 )
        "Ask the non-geeks around you if they know what Mosaic is. Then ask them when they started using "Netscape"."

        Most of the non-geeks around me think "the Internet" is a big blue E that sits on their desktop. If I say "browser" they think I'm talking about a customer that doesn't buy anything.
    • Re:Cern (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cshotton ( 46965 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:50PM (#13064179) Homepage
      Yeah, this Fortune article is definitely revisionist history, drawn up by some of the people that capitalized on a lot of hard work by others. I know, I was there. I spent a LOT of time in late '91 and most of 1992 corresponding with Robert Cailliau, who was responsible for much of the work on the CERN server/browser combo that predated anything done at NCSA. We at Univ. of Texas were interested in getting scientific papers on-line and had found Gopher to be a train wreck when it came to managing scientific notations, footnotes, and bibliographic references. The guys at CERN had solved the problem for text with the work Tim Berners-Lee had done with HTML and the networking code others at CERN had created for HTTP.

      I originally contacted Robert and TB-L about writing a browser for the Mac. They said they'd rather see a server, which is how MacHTTP was born. Once the Mac server was running, I started working with Aleks Totic at NCSA to get the early versions of Mosaic on the Mac to work with the same server. Another prominent figure at NCSA at the time was Tom Redman, who if I recall correctly, was leading the Mosaic effort. At the time, Andressen was just another programmer on the Mosaic effort who had some glory because he hacked up the first working image tag in HTML. Until that time, everything had been text and hyperlinks

      Long story short, everyone knew that Andressen snuck out of town with the Mosaic source code, and a few weeks later lured several of the developers like Aleks to go with him. There was a lot of ill-will engendered by that move and it wasn't all sweetness and light as the Fortune article would have you believe.

      I remember speaking to the NCSA team (and then the SpyGlass team) many times afterwards, and no one ever really got over the fact that a junior programmer walked out the door with the IP created by dozens of other people and got filthy rich out of it while many of the people who built the original World Wide Web labored on in obscurity. At the time, the Internet culture wasn't about getting rich. It was about creating cool technology and sharing it with others, and almost all of the innovative stuff was still coming out of academia.

      If anything, Netscape was the prototypical example of how to swipe someone elses' good ideas, rebrand them, and get rich. That was the company's real legacy to the Internet and the subsequent DotCom lunacy.

  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:18AM (#13062694) Homepage Journal
    Andreessen: I lined up interviews and took a programming job at a company in Palo Alto. I liked the idea of moving someplace that wasn't so cold. The Valley was kind of dormant then. Apple Computer was the walking dead.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. :-)
  • Ahem... Mosaic (Score:3, Informative)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:18AM (#13062702) Homepage
    Let's not forget Mosaic [evolt.org], upon which Netscape was built.

    Still, I havea great fondness for the big, pulsing, waiting for 56K dial up N that was Netscape in the early days.
    • Re:Ahem... Mosaic (Score:2, Informative)

      by bedroll ( 806612 )
      Let's not forget Mosaic, upon which Netscape was built.

      As was IE. The humor of it is that, as I recall, most of the programmers responsible for Mosaic were the ones to originally create Netscape. So, if IE was started by building off of Mosaic's roots then those programmers helped Microsoft destroy Netscape.

      Then there was Mosaic 2.0, which was just a little less horrible than IE 2.0.. but that's another story.

    • 56k? Thats lightning fast man, i am still using my 2400 baud modem with 9600 fax capabilities.

      On a real note, who gets 56k dialup? I have never experienced true 56k dialup no matter where i lived. At best I have got around 48k, mostly it was 32 or 28k. Yes I had the 56k modems but the lines were not providing me with that speed.
      • Dial-up speeds (Score:3, Informative)

        by DragonHawk ( 21256 )
        "On a real note, who gets 56k dialup?"

        Nobody (on the US PSTN) gets 56 Kbit, as that would exceed some obscure FCC limit. You're limited to 53 Kbit. I have seen that in practice, but it's pretty rare, and I expect you have to be right next to the CO on brand new wires to get it.
    • Re:Ahem... Mosaic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by deanj ( 519759 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:30AM (#13062819)
      Let's not forget Imposter Boy:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20030212202753/http://w ww.chrispy.net/marca/gqarticle.html [archive.org] ....Unless you want to believe the marketing goons at Netscape.

      Kinda odd that the guy that was supposed to have written Mosaic single-handedly didn't write ANY code at Netscape.
    • Let's not forget Mosaic, upon which Netscape was built.

      And IE.

      Still, I havea great fondness for the big, pulsing, waiting for 56K dial up N that was Netscape in the early days.

      Hmm, you had 56K "in the early days" with pulsing Ns? The rest of us had much slower connections.
    • Sorry if i'm not too fond of Netscape. Back in the dotcom daze, most of us "web programmers" would typically spend half our time in developing web pages, and the other half in getting the damn thing to work in Netscape, especially fancy Javascript/DHTML and table/image alignment. Ok, Netscape did have a javascript console but that was about it. Then, there would be all the graphics designers sitting on top of our heads, asking us to reformat the entire table structure just because one lousy column was not d
  • by dan dan the dna man ( 461768 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:19AM (#13062711) Homepage Journal
    I already waste enough time at work reading your hallowed pages. Pointing me to 20 page articles is not helping my productivity one bit. Now I've commented I'll RTFA for a while, maybe comment again in 20 minutes time ;)
  • by teiresias ( 101481 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:20AM (#13062717)
    Picture a world without Google, without eBay or Amazon or broadband, where few people have even heard of IPOs. That was reality just a decade ago.

    No or less newbs. Far less spam. Fewer viruses.

    *sniff* The good ole days.

    The company that changed it--bringing us into the Internet age--was a brilliant flash in the pan called Netscape


    //Although in the "good ole days", there was only dial-up, extremely bad streaming video (if at all), and AOL ruled supreme. Thanks Netscape ;)
    • "No or less newbs. Far less spam. Fewer viruses.

      *sniff* The good ole days.

      And lots of rose-tinted glasses....

      Do you recall:

      If you don't then you're either young or deluding yourself into thinking the world got ugly all of a sudden.

      • Re:Good Ole Days (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:17AM (#13063257) Homepage
        The Morris worm was a flash in the pan compared to the neverending parade of WinDOS remote exploits and email/word/excel viruses. The Morris worm inspired Unix vendors to change their habits. Microsoft seems immune from the pressures that make most companies fix their screwups.

        Back when everyone had to worry about link and boot sector viruses, you would get laughed off the board for suggesting something like an email virus.
    • Re:Good Ole Days (Score:2, Informative)

      by Takara ( 711260 )
      The company that changed it--bringing us into the Internet age--was a brilliant flash in the pan called Netscape


      The "Internet age" you're thinking of happened in 1997 along with Windows 98... That's where the noobs came from.

    • Re:Good Ole Days (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RetroGeek ( 206522 )
      AOL ruled supreme

      No, that would be CompuServe. If you wanted to reach company information, message boards, CompuServe was the way to go. They had local MODEM numbers in every major city.

      And they are still around [compuserve.com], though on the WWW.
  • When I first got online, the Web didn't exist yet. I was in elementary school, and my advanced studies teacher was helping me learn about computers. I remember sending an e-mail over a 300bps modem, from the only internet-capable computer in our school. This was back in the days when I programmed in BASIC on an Apple IIgs (IIe?).

    I find it unfortunate that I never got into the BBS scene - moreso, that I didn't know it existed. When I got my first modem-equipped computer, the modem sat unused until we even
  • What a change (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mfloy ( 899187 )
    Sometimes we don't even realize what a change 10 years can make to our lives. I can't even not being able to use the internet for news, chat, shoppings, research, etc. The only unfortunate part is that Netscape has been hit by the Microsoft Monopoly and is a shell of it's former glory.
  • Not netscape. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:22AM (#13062739)
    I wouldn't give netscape the credit for the birth of the web. I would give Netscape credit for the .COM bubble, and making the web well known. But it is more of an issue of the right place at the right time. Modems have gotten fast enough to display bitmapped graphics, at a reasionable speed. Most people had 8 bit color at 640x480 displays, and the OS's and Computers were powerful enough to run a multitasking windowed environment. I think if netscape wan't there Mosaic may have stayed the big dog for Browsers untill microsoft wanted a piece of the action. It would be fair to say the Netscape help popularized the web, not threw anything really technical, but because it gave wallstreet a look at what the internet combined with html can promice, thus giving advertising time to the internet.
  • Mosaic? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by meckardt ( 113120 )

    The company that changed it--bringing us into the Internet age--was a brilliant flash in the pan called Netscape.

    How about Mosaic? I admit that Netscape was a big step forward, but it was evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

    • Re:Mosaic? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile, either. (Nor, BTW, did he invent the assembly line.) And the Model T wasn't the first car he produced. But when he did ...

      So it seems kind of like that. Before Netscape, the Web was an interesting idea, with some modest success, but basically the domain of hobbyists with a high tolerance for quirks. And the first release of the Netscape browser (the "Navigator" name didn't come until a couple years later, IIRC, but someone please tell me if I'm wrong) wasn't al
      • "And the first release of the Netscape browser (the "Navigator" name didn't come until a couple years later, IIRC, but someone please tell me if I'm wrong)"

        Not so much wrong as incomplete.

        The original name for the company was "Mosaic Communications". The domain name they registered for this, http://www.mcom.com/ [mcom.com], still takes you to the Netscape website. The name for the product was going to be "Mosaic NetScape". It turned out they couldn't use the Mosaic name (I forget why, prolly a trademark), so they
    • How about Mosaic? I admit that Netscape was a big step forward, but it was evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.

      The details are fuzzy in my head, but back then I used Mosaic as the first graphical web browser. It sucked. It wasn't able do concurrently download text and images at the same time (or even multiple images concurrently). It would suck down the HTML, and then at the bottom status bar it would say something like "Downloading images...", while you waited. I believe that Netscape was more po
  • by Sonicboom ( 141577 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:23AM (#13062751) Journal
    "Picture a world without Google, without eBay or Amazon or broadband,..."

    and I remember a world where I had an email box that had NO spam in it, and a USENET with little to no spam... where porn was in alt.binaries.* and NOT in comp.*.... and posts were ON TOPIC.

    OTOH - it was also a world without /.

    I'd like to turn back time.
    • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:29AM (#13062815) Homepage
      Don't you remember the original spammer?

      BIFF BIFF BIFF bIff Biff bIFF

      I remember seeing his posts all over the newsgroups "back in the day". If nothing else, he was creative.
      • by greed ( 112493 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:54AM (#13063056)
        He and kibo were just spool-greppers, not spammers. Annoying, but easy enough to filter.

        Most of my "stupid posting" filtering used to be done by rejecting any message which did not have a lowercase letter in Subject:. Worked great until I got a job at IBM with all those old mono-case mainframe programmers. (You can decide if I'm talking about the mainframes or the programmers being old.)

        You want to remember spam, how about Green Card Lottery from Canter & Siegel?

        Heck, that was back when people talked about "EMP" (excessive multi-posting) or "ECP" (excessive cross-posting) on USENET, and "UCE" (unsolicited commercial e-mail) for, uh... e-mail I suppose.

        Spam originally referred to USENET postings, in honor of those Monty Python vikings who just won't shut up about it--the C&S postings were like that, everywhere you went, there was another damn green card lottery posting....

        But that was after the start of Eternal September. (Now that AOL has dropped USENET, is it finally October?) And those of us who complained when Prodigy got 'net access sure looked back fondly when AOL hooked up.

        Remember when the worst thing about USENET was a few kooks and badly-configured FIDO BBS doors?

        Yeah, me neither, my memory's not what it used to be.

        I do remember being shown this neat thing on one of those fancy Sun SPARCStations with the built-in ISDN connection where you could look at a page of text from an information service, and it would be able to have pictures and full-motion video integrated into it! Even over ISDN it took a while to load up, and the video (MPEG 1) got all blurry if there was a lot of movement, and it pretty much swamped the SPARCStation....

        It was summer of 1992 and they didn't really have a name for it yet. It was like gopher, but with graphics, too.

        They (Northern Telecom's research division) also had a prototype of a new wireless phone from Motorola--it would work with their wireless set-up for private branch exchanges (Meridians). But the cool thing was, it had a flip-down thing like a Star Trek communicator.

    • where porn was in alt.binaries.*

      It still is, you know. Obviously, you have to weed out all spam, but filesize is a pretty good filter.

  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:24AM (#13062757) Homepage Journal
    .. I'd just helped start up a (what is now very large) ISP in Los Angeles, and we were having a blast (i kid) helping people get the Trumpet Winsock Dialler and some 3rd-party TCP/IP stack installed on their Windows 3.0 and 3.1/WFW machines .. 'real TCP/IP access' was one of the major draws to us as an ISP, and for the first few weeks we had about 15 new signups a day.

    Then Mosaic went "Netscape", and suddenly, literally in a matter of one week, it was like 100 signups a day... just so people could get into this new-fangled "GUI"-style info resource they'd heard about in WIRED and Mondo2000 and BoingBoing magazines ... phew. We nearly melted down, but I'm glad to say I really had a unique opportunity to see this turning point from the perspective of a major ISP .. which is still around, and has grown a lot since those humble days with 20 14.4k modems and 10 28.8k modems, sitting on a Livingston rack, hanging off a single 56k line ..

    Ah, the web. What would the Internets be without you now, eh? A massive landscape of gopher piles and archie bookmarks, no doubt .. no doubt .. /pours one on the ground for the poor suckers still in the ISP business ...
  • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:25AM (#13062782) Homepage
    I'll never forget when the Lead Engineer of our team at HP looked at Mosaic / WWW and said, "Who needs that?" This guy was supposed to be the "visionary" for management, but he definitely had his head in the sand.

    If nothing else, you think he would appreciate the ease of getting pr0n. Cobbling together alt.binary... threads was state-of-the-art back then. :-)
  • Tim Berners-Lee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by an_mo ( 175299 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:26AM (#13062785) Journal
    Why do people talk about Netscape so much and forget that one person only, Tim Berners-Lee, invented the web? He code the first browser, the first web server, invented html, convinced CERN to keep it free and open. And yet, when you tell the average educated guy that there is one person that did all this, they find it hard to believe. I just can't understand why Andreesen is more popular than Berners-Lee.
    • Because he didn't go on to form some wildly successful .com company, rape an pillage an unwitting stock market, and sellout to a dying behemoth (AOL).

      People don't seem to care about you if you don't make an unreasonable amount of money doing something.

      Imagine if some greedy pig like MS had "invented" the internet. We'd be paying by the bit. /. wouldn't exist because it would be too costly to read all the comments. :-)
    • Re:Tim Berners-Lee (Score:4, Insightful)

      by m50d ( 797211 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#13063126) Homepage Journal
      Because he resisted the future. He didn't want pictures on the web, and certainly not all the plugin based stuff we have today. You get the impression he wanted to keep it academic. If TBL had run the show the web would be just another cool research toy.
    • Re:Tim Berners-Lee (Score:4, Informative)

      by barzok ( 26681 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:36AM (#13063407)
      And the people who keep asking "what about Tim Berners-Lee?" seem to be forgetting Vannevar Bush [wikipedia.org].
  • Imposter Boy (Score:5, Informative)

    by deanj ( 519759 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:26AM (#13062786)
    The world has always gotten this whole myth about how Mosaic was created from the Netscape people themselves. It's just like the myth that eBay was started because someone wanted to sell Pez containers, or any of the rest of the Silicon Valley myths. Marketing it that way makes a good story.

    The only article you can find on what happened with NCSA Mosaic was in a GQ article from 1997. It's called Imposter Boy, and can be found here:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20030212202753/http://w ww.chrispy.net/marca/gqarticle.html [archive.org]

    Call it sour grapes, or whatever you want, but I defy you to find any other articles about what happened back in those days... you can't. It's all because of the spin that Netscape put on it.

  • And Netscape's practice of openly sharing technology so that other programmers and their companies could build upon its ideas helped give rise to a global technology community, the open-source movement.
    Perhaps Netscape did help the open source movement. But did not give rise. People like RMS, ESR, Linus and many others that I can't possibly remember did that. Maybe they mean it was first for a company to open its source ? I don't know about that. Was there no large company before 1995 to give away source?
  • but they sure made it visible. I was working for my second internet startup [for peanuts and equity] when Netscape's IPO broke into the news. The founder had begged for a year to get enough venture money to open our doors...and the delay cost us a precious first-mover advantage.
    But after Netscape, it was raining VC money, more money than good ideas.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:31AM (#13062829)

    Picture a world without Google, without eBay or Amazon or broadband

    Well, it'd make Jeff Bezos patent portfolio look a lot different. That's for sure.

    • Method for turning a rounded piece of metal to effect egress from a building.
    • Composition of a food like substance for the purpose of blowing rounded spheres
    • Method for using a cord like structure to hold shoes on human feet
    • Circular structure intended to make the lateral motion of a heavy load subject to less friction
    • ...
  • They left out. . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:31AM (#13062832) Journal
    Picture a world without Google, without eBay or Amazon or broadband,

    Or one without billions of emails promising V14gr4! on the cheap!, where stealing someones identity involved more than point-and-click. A world where people had to, gasp!, go out and talk to other people face-to-face to buy products or knew how to use a card catalog at the library.

    Yeah, those were the days oh so many eons ago. In fact, I distinctly remember my mom and dad having to round up the horses every morning to hook them to the carriage so they could go to work every morning while my brother and I washed our feet so they looked somewhat presentable after we had walked the two miles to school (uphill both ways mind you).

    While it's nice to remember how things were and the progress we've made, let's also not forget the things that we don't know how to do anymore. We're so wrapped up (some of us anyway) in what's latest and greatest that we now have less overall free time to do things and spend most of our time trying to figure out how to schedule our days.

    No, I'm not a luddite. I'm just one of those who don't see the point in much of what people are gaga over nowadays (a cel phone which can do 20 different things except make a decent call for example). If you're into web pages with Flash simply because Flash is the 'in thing' for web design, more power to ya. Just don't think that everyone else cares.

    • "A world where people had to, gasp!, go out and talk to other people face-to-face to buy product..."

      It was called mail order back then. You would either phone or mail in an order instead of placing your order on the internet, but otherwise the idea was much the same.

      Some of us have been avoiding people for a lot longer than 10 years.

    • "where stealing someones identity involved more than point-and-click"

      You bet! I remember the good old days [imdb.com] when you had to rip someone's face from their skull and replace yours with it.

  • dumb moves (Score:4, Funny)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:32AM (#13062841)
    My dad got an email from some guy named Marc Andreeson some ten or twelve years ago asking if he wanted to come work for his new company. Naturally, my father being a government employee with a decent pension plan decided to toss the email... :-/
    • Well, fast forward to today... what's better: having tossed the email ten years ago or picking up the job to be tossed away by AOL a couple of years ago?
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:33AM (#13062849)
    Netscape's rise and fall epitomizes the acceleration of the business cycle. The fact that anyone can download anything at low cost and the fact that most people replace their computers every 2 years means a new, small company can quickly grow its customer base. And those same tools meant that MS could, just as quickly distribute its own browser and quickly take Netscape's installbase from the company.

    Low distribution costs and PC turnover means that marketshare leadership is not assailable under most conditions -- its too easy for people to replace old software, especially when they get a new computer. Only companies that have an interoperability hook that ties past, present, and future generations of software and systems together have any hope of retaining marketshare.

    MS has tried, and succeeded, in creating that hook with IE in that many websites "work best" with Explorer and Windows-specific web functionality (VBscript, ActiveX, MS-extensions to javascript, etc.). To the extent that MS is forced, in the future, to embrace true open standards (not embrace-and-extent forks of those standards) then the OS and app maker will become vulnerable to rapid changes in marketshare.
  • where few people have even heard of IPOs.

    Just because the dot-com boom was the first time that geeks started noticing talk about IPOs, the concept of companies going public and selling stock with Initial Public Offerings wasn't exactly new, not even to the general public. "IPO" was already part of the standard jargon of Wall Street and the countless people who invested in the stock market... more than "a few".

  • Picture a world where slashdot credited the author of the article, rather than the submitter who simply cuts and pastes the blurb as their own.

    Sigh, sorry to complain, but it's a pet peeve of mine.
  • by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:42AM (#13062931) Homepage
    What many people also forget is that Netscape sucked after version 3. I was one of those rabidly anti-Microsoft people who defended Netscape (wrongly) because of Microsoft's monopoly. Firefox and Mozilla proved that Microsoft can be beaten in time without the government.

    Let's also not forget that AJAX' XMLHttpRequest object, which powers many of Google's new services, was invented by Microsoft with IE 5. I remember Netscape 4 sucking so bad that when IE 4 was about to go gold that there were people lining up in the chat room that I was in on Westwood Studios' chat service for C&C players to get as they ranted about Communicator.

    And my God was it a POS. The thing was horribly bloated, ugly, not standards compliant and a spectacular mess to maintain, hence the mozilla guys practically starting over from scratch. Let's not forget something here, which Google has not. Netscape lost not because IE went free, but because Netscape 4 was such a bloat POS that it was agonizing to use it compared to IE 4. Netscape lost because when Microsoft got their act together, Netscape went from the elite of browser design to rank amateurs at best.
  • by Dammital ( 220641 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:42AM (#13062934)
    ... whose website has some pretty entertaining stuff.

    the netscape dorm [jwz.org]
    my employer can blow me [jwz.org]
    resignation and postmortem [jwz.org]
    netscape and aol [jwz.org]

  • by zentec ( 204030 ) * <zentec AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:43AM (#13062946)
    The common mode for many Silicon Valley companies of the time like Netscape and SGI was simply pure arrogance. Ever try dealing with these people?

    Netscape was unbelieveable. While they might have been the first to come up with an ISP agreement, wanting a percentage of the ISP's revenue for a package they GAVE AWAY online was asking way too much. Their other products, like their Collabra server, were WinNT ports of open source products like INN. And they worked like magic; it took a lot of hocus pokus to keep it running more than twelve hours. And forget actually interfacing it to Usenet, it simply couldn't handle the load.

    If you called and complained, you were basically told "it is what it is, but the new version fixes it so send us more money". And that was just one software product.

    Marc Andressen was not the golden boy he likes to make himself out to be. He was in the right place at the right time, and fortunately for him, made out pretty well. But he's a one trick pony.

    Netscape didn't die because of Microsoft, Netscape died because of their own arrogance and they believed their own marketing. Good riddance. At least what was left was turned into something decent.

  • A text-only web is perfectly usable at 2400bps, but uninteresting to most of the general public.

    The 14.4kbps modem and jpeg image compression made it possible for the average person to say "pretty pictures from 3000 miles away. Neat!"

    In my judgement, these technologies were more more difficult to develop and more important than adding graphics to the web browser.

    • "A text-only web is perfectly usable at 2400bps, but uninteresting to most of the general public"

      It would have worked at that speed. The page designers and web app programmers would have been forced to come up with ingenious compression routines and efficient transfer protocols. You would have ended up with a Web that would have had enough useful color graphics and "Pizzazz" to have been extremel popular with the public, even if the ability to download large files and stream intense media would have never

  • by MirrororriM ( 801308 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:49AM (#13063009) Homepage Journal
    Picture a world without Google, without eBay or Amazon or broadband, where few people have even heard of IPOs.

    Why, when I was a young programmer we had to write the code in the snow with our pee, and a compiler was just a word for the pilot of the hovering dirigible that read the instructions and passed them to the ALU, which was another fellow with an abacus. They would wrap the results around a rock, and drop it on my house when the program would exit. We had to walk uphill...

    I love these good ol' days stories :)

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:54AM (#13063058)
    I'm still hoping my investments in Gopherspace will pay off!
  • by rgf71 ( 448062 )
    Yesterday was DIY Marathon Day. Is today going to be Nostalgia Marathon Day?

    What about tomorrow?
  • The article doesn't matter because MS says that they are the only ones who have been innovative in the last 452 years. In fact if Al Gore says he invented the idea of the Internet then MS will say that they invented Al Gore (it could happen you know!)
  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:01AM (#13063124) Homepage Journal

    I was working as a student support tech at the University of Illinois. My boss, who had been in Marc Andreesen's department, said he was having trouble with some Unix thing. Being the only approachable Unix type around, she asked me to help him. I called or emailed him, and agreed to come take a look at his workstation.

    In my august wizardness I never found the building, so I never got to meet Marc or solve his problem.

    I can't believe they didn't even mention my central role in Netscape's development.

  • What about CERN?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mattmakris ( 899812 )
    Hey could somebody please give CERN credit? They were the ones who gave birth to the technology, Marc Andreesen, Eric Bina, and Tim Berners-Lee only continued research and ended up releasing a commercial development of Mosaic and Netscape. Duh!

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:13AM (#13063226)
    http://houghi.org/script/Netscape.zip [houghi.org]

    It is the Windows 3.1 Netscape 1 file. I hope it works, because I got it from a floppy that also included the dialupconnection, trupet winsock, emailclient and some other stuff and all that on 1 (one) floppy. Could be that I did not include enough files and I have no option to test it.

    That was my first internetconnection and it worked like a charm.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#13063278) Journal
    Mosaic had two children, Netscape and IE.
    IE lives on, while Netscape died in an "accident" but is survived by more-or-less bastard children of many names- mozilla/firefox, Opera, etc.

    So now, 10 years later, do we know for sure: did IE murder Netscape, was it truly an accident of circumstance, or was it semi-suicide?

    I'd genuinely like to know.
  • by sprag ( 38460 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:07PM (#13063672)
    I just built version 1.2 from 1993 and its pretty quick.

    It won't render slashdot, though :(

    Now I'm off to build 2.6!
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @01:21PM (#13064572) Homepage Journal
    You talk about 10 years ago like it's some far off mythical land with hobbits and trolls and shit.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly