Sofía Soto Franco

Netscape Navigator

Netscape Navigator is a discontinued proprietary web browser, and the original browser of the Netscape line. 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.

Origin of Netscape

Netscape Navigator was based on the Mosaic web browser, which was co-written by Marc Andreessen, a part-time employee of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and a student at the University of Illinois. After Andreessen graduated in 1993, he moved to California and there met Jim Clark, the recently departed founder of Silicon Graphics. Clark believed that the Mosaic browser had great commercial possibilities and provided the seed money. Soon Mosaic Communications Corporation was in business in Mountain View, California, with Andreessen as a vice-president. Since the University of Illinois was unhappy with the company's use of the Mosaic name, the company changed its name to Netscape Communications and named its flagship web browser Netscape Navigator.

Today, having abandoned the development of its Netscape browser, you can consider one of Mozilla Navigator as his successor.

Rise of Netscape and Decline

An important innovation that Netscape introduced in 1994 was the on-the-fly display of web pages, where text and graphics appeared on the screen as the web page downloaded. Earlier web browsers would not display a page until all graphics on it had been loaded over the network connection; this often made a user stare at a blank page for as long as several minutes. With Netscape, people using dial-up connections could begin reading the text of a web page within seconds of entering a web address, even before the rest of the text and graphics had finished downloading. This made the web much more tolerable to the average user.

Following Netscape's lead, Microsoft started a campaign to enter the web browser software market. Like Netscape before them, Microsoft licensed the Mosaic source code from Spyglass. Using this basic code, Microsoft created Internet Explorer.

The competition between Microsoft and Netscape dominated the Browser Wars.

On 28 December 2007, the Netscape developers announced that AOL had canceled development of Netscape Navigator, leaving it unsupported as of 1 March 2008. Despite this, archived and unsupported versions of the browser remain available for download. Firefox would go on to win back market share from Internet Explorer in the next round of the browser wars.

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Netscape's contributions to the web include JavaScript, which was submitted as a new standard to Ecma International. The resultant ECMAScript specification allowed JavaScript support by multiple web browsers and its use as a cross-browser scripting language, long after Netscape Navigator itself has dropped in popularity. Another example is the FRAME tag, that is widely supported today, and that has been incorporated into official web standards such as the "HTML 4.01 Frameset" specification.

In a 2007 PC World column, the original Netscape Navigator was considered the "best tech product of all time" due to its impact on the Internet.

Interesting Facts

Netscape Navigator will be the first browser through which they first accessed the amazing world of the internet. I remember at my university, it was the standard browser installed on all machines and although by today's standards it was painfully slow, clunky and just plain boring, it did open up a whole new world and without doubt, set the blueprint from which the browsers of today developed.

There are two main areas that Netscape was the first to come-up with: On The Fly Display of Webpages - Before Netscape, users would often have to wait until everything had downloaded before they could read anything. Netscape displayed text and images as they downloaded - essential at a time when everyone was on dial-up connections.

Technical Innovations - Netscape was the first to introduce the use of cookies, frames and Javascript - pure browser basics that have become key browser concepts. Especially in respect of cookies, Netscape was widely criticised for what many perceived as its attempt to track and follow users.

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