It’s difficult to pinpoint a product or service which has changed the world since its release, because it takes years for that to happen. The Mosaic browser changed the entire world in the same way that the iPhone did.
This month marks 30 years since the release of version 1.0, or Mosaic, in April 1993. Mosaic was not the first web-browser released. WorldWideWeb was developed by Tim Berners Lee at CERN, in 1990. Later, other browsers such as Viola or Cello were released. Mosaic, however, was different.
Marc Andreessen, a graduate student at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Eric Bina developed the scanner. Mosaic was the first web browser to display text and images together in one window. Mosaic was a web browser that compared reading magazine pages to browsing websites.
Mosaic allowed users to navigate to different pages and sites by clicking hyperlinks instead of typing the URL manually. The user interface was easy to understand. Mosaic uses the familiar buttons for going back and forth to different sites or refreshing a page. Mosaic was first released on Unix systems and then later for Windows, Macintosh, and other platforms in 1993.
The Internet’s polished stone age
In the 1980s, closed internet services such as AOL Compuserve Prodigy and other online services were becoming less popular. Mosaic and an ISP were all you needed to connect to the Internet. According to the official Mosaic site of the NCSA, as of December 1993 “more than 5 000 copies of the browser was downloaded each month and the center received over 300,000 email requests every week.” This was the time when many homes were only able to connect to internet via a 28.8k modem. These were the golden years of the internet.
In 1994, the US National Science Foundation started funding the development of Mosaic. During those years the future of the scanner remained in question. Marc Andreessen, the co-creator of Mosaic, left NCSA in 1996 and founded Mosaic Communications Corporation. The company released Mosaic Netscape in late 1994. However, tensions escalated with the NCSA over copyright and name issues. The browser was renamed Netscape Navigator, and the company became Netscape Communications Corporation.
In 1995, Microsoft was granted the license to Mosaic. Microsoft developed Internet Explorer using this license. It lost its market share a few short years later, especially in the early 2000s. Mosaic, in one way or another was the most visible progenitor for the web browsers that we know today. It would have been a lot longer to get us to the present day without Mosaic.