The modern web browser is an indispensable tool for almost everyone these days, but you may not realize just how this invention got its start. Although the “Internet” as you know it today began back in the 1970s, the modern Internet did not come to exist until around 1990, the same year that the first web browser came along.
The first actual web browser was called the WorldWideWeb, its name meant to symbolize the expansion, or planned expansion, of the Internet. In 1992, the MidasWWW debuted, and in 1993, Cello, one of the first graphical web browsers, was released. As the Internet grew, Microsoft decided to jump into the fray with Internet Explorer in 1995.
Netscape and Internet Explorer
Although Internet Explorer is still around today and is lauded as being the best (and worst) choice in a web browser by many, at one time, it faced a formidable foe: Netscape Navigator. Around 1996, Netscape Navigator was the go-to web browser, leading Microsoft’s Internet Explorer by a very large margin. Microsoft, however, got the upper hand when it began including Internet Explorer as the default web browser within its Windows operating system. Within a few years, Internet Explorer cam to dominate the Internet surfing landscape, causing usage of Netscape Navigator to plummet. Netscape Navigator, developed by America Online, or AOL, was eventually discontinued due to a lack of interest by the general public on the Internet.
Firefox and Beyond
In the early 2000s, the Internet saw a series of new and free browsers come on the market, including Mozilla’s Firefox. Firefox quickly gained attention and credibility as a contender in the web browser world, and around the same time, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer would be only available for Windows, causing Apple to create its Safari browser. Opera also came along, and while used on many desktops, it is often the choice for users of mobile devices when browsing the Internet.
Chrome and the Future
Currently, Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers due to its simplicity, speed, and functionality. Although Internet Explorer remains a heavily-used web browser, especially among businesses, Chrome sets itself apart by providing an intuitive experience for users across all markets, demographics, and generations. Both tools are available for free, and users can offer feedback to give both Microsoft and Google information regarding what works and what does not work.
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