The end of an era.

I somehow overlooked (till now) this rather significant (semi-recent) news from the world of teh Internets™.

Netscape Logo from 1994 Final Netscape Logo

On 28 December 2007, AOL/Netscape announced the end of an era. There will be no further development of Netscape after this month.  The current version (9.0.5  – I’ll bet you didn’t even realize there was a current version – if you’re old enough to remember Netscape from it’s “glory days”) will continue to receive security patches through the end of this month. All support for Netscape software will cease on 1 February 2008.

Back in the stone age (years, before Dubya pluarlized “Internet”), Netscape was the browser. I remember using its 0.x beta versions in 1994 (before the release of 1.0) on Windows 3.1(!).

I abandoned Mosaic (the original graphical browser) for Netscape (whose developers – notably Marc Andreessen – were also the original developers of Mosaic).

Netscape kicked ass for a few years. Then it all went downhill.  The first “browser wars” began. Microsoft shoved Internet Explorer down everyone’s throat.  By 1998-99 Internet Explorer was king. And frankly, Internet Explorer was the better browser by then.

Then in late 1998, AOL bought Netscape Communications.  Netscape fans feared the worst. And AOL did neglect Netscape as feared (and laid off most of it’s employees over time). However, the good news was that earlier in 1998 AOL had released the Netscape source code (and to make a long story short) users of Firefox and Thunderbird today have AOL(!) to thank for that (I hate to admit that, but it’s true).

Despite the Netscape browser being virtually ignored for years, I’m still sad to see it go.

So for you wise folks who today use Firefox and/or Thunderbird, you can thank the “original” Netscape.  Without Netscape there would have been no Mozilla.org, which is where this most excellent software comes from.

Thank you Netscape, and R.I.P.

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