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Netscape Navigator

Last Edit: 10/01/17


Netscape Navigator was a web browser that was developed by the Netscape Communications Corporation. Netscape Navigator was originally released on the 15th of December, 1994, and from 1994-1996, Netscape Navigator became the most popular browser for the Windows platform. Netscape Navigator is widely accepted as the most technically advanced web browser in the mid-1990's; and invented the use of many new features, like: HTTP cookies and JavaScript.

The Netscape Navigator browser was developed from 1994 to 1998; but it's legacy has continued to the present day (2014). The 'code name' for the Netscape Navigator software was: Mozilla. When the Netscape Communications Corporation was purchased in 1998 - by AOL - the code of Netscape Navigator was made open source, and released under the Netscape Public License. The 'Mozilla project' was founded to continue the development of the Netscape Navigator; the Firefox browser is one of the descendants of Netscape Navigator.


Netscape's creation is intertwined with the Mosaic web browser: Mosaic was released in 1993, and is the browser acclaimed for popularising the World Wide Web. Mosaic was developed by a team of students from the University of Illinois, United States. In 1994, due to the popularity of Mosaic, the developers of Mosaic moved to California and created the Mosaic Communications Corporation. Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark were the founders of the Mosaic Communications Corporation.

The first web browser developed by the Mosaic Communications Corporation was named: Mosaic Netscape 0.9. The browser was released in 1994, and was renamed to Netscape Navigator in late 1994; to avoid a avoid a trademark issue over the use of the word Mosaic. Although the browser was originally named Mosaic Netscape 0.9, and was developed by software engineers, like Louis Montulli - who developed the original NCSA Mosaic browser - Netscape Navigator did not contain any code found in the NCSA Mosaic browser. In 1995, the Mosaic Communications Corporation was renamed to Netscape Communications Corporation; to signify that Netscape was a distinct browser and company.

The years, 1994-1995, are described as the "age of Netscape"; the browser dominated the World Wide Web landscape, but, it was not to last. Microsoft released Windows 95 in 1995, and their new web browser, named: Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer was packaged with Windows 95; this gave Internet Explorer a distinct advantage over Netscape Navigator: which generally had to be purchased from a store. From 1995-1997, Netscape and Microsoft participated in a 'browser war': versions of each browser were continually released with new features. Eventually, Microsoft's extra funding told, and by 1998, Netscape Communications Corporation experienced financial difficulties and was purchased by America Online (AOL).

AOL continued to develop a browser named 'Netscape'; but, with little success, and, by 2003, AOL disbanded the marketing and development of Netscape products.

However, the 'fall-out' from the 'browser war' did not conclude in 1998; the United States Department of Justice filed an antitrust case named: United States v. Microsoft Corporation 253 F.3d 34. This antitrust case claimed that Microsoft created a monopoly when it packaged Internet Explorer with it's Windows operating system. The case was settled in 2001; with some critics stating that Microsoft simple received a 'slap on the wrist'.