Netscape Rocks the Internet
December 15, 1994
In April of this year, Jim Clark (co-founder of Silicon Graphics) and Marc Andreessen (a leader of the original Mosaic development team at the NCSA) announced they were forming a company to develop software to make the Internet easier to use. Initially, the venture attracted the attention of only a few specialized Internet periodicals and some astute business publications such as the Wall Street Journal. Now, just six months later, Netscape Communications of Mountain View, CA, is a daily feature in the business and entertainment sections of newspapers across the country.
A few days after the release of Netscape’s first product, Marc Andreessen spoke at a meeting of multimedia producers, sponsored by Pacific Bell, e-media, and the National Association of Media Arts and Culture.
Ever since Ted Nelson first articulated the concept of hypermedia in 1965 in his landmark paper “A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate,” the brightest minds in computing have drawn inspiration from the vision of a seamless, global network that provides instant access to all the world’s information.
While thousands of people and countless developments have contributed to this goal, a few key events stand out as particularly important.
In 1973, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn began work to develop TCP/IP, the Internet protocol “language” that lets all computers and networks talk to each other in a common tongue.
Ten years later, in 1983, when there were still less than six hundred computers connected to the Internet, the U.S. military established TCP/IP as the standard communication platform for its global computer network, the largest in the world, thus setting the stage for its rapid adoption by network managers everywhere, especially at colleges and universities.
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, of the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, proposed the World Wide Web, a resource that streamlines the sharing and display of information of all types, including audio and video, across the Internet.
In 1993, Marc Andreesen, then an undergraduate at the University of Illinios, unleashed a software program called Mosaic which demonstrated that the World Wide Web could be made so easy to use that anyone, regardless of background, could master it in a manner of minutes. Mosaic was offered to the public for free. A year later the program had over two million users and set off a boom in publishing activity unlike anything seen on the Internet before.
The next chapter in Internet history is unfolding now with the beta release of Netscape Communications Corporation’s Netscape Navigator. Written from scratch by the team that designed the original Mosaic, the new navigator runs ten times faster and includes many other significant improvements (for more information, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org). In this issue, two computer industry veterans, Dennis Moncrief of Net Direct and Jack Rickard of Boardwatch Magazine, explain why this latest evolution in Internet software is so important, and what it means for the future of commerce and communications.
– Ken McCarthy
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