Goodbye, little browser that could

The Washington Post did not exactly made this piece to be an obituary (“AOL to End Support for Netscape Browser Once the dominant Web browser, AOL has discontinued development and active support for the Netscape browser.”) but it is, nonetheless, a farewell to one of the most celebrated applications of the web area. Tom Drapeau, AOL’s Netscape Brand director, announced that AOL will not be supporting Netscape after February 1st, 2016.

Netscape was an all-round winner: created in 1994 by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark, we knew it originally as Mosaic Netscape, it quickly became everybody’s browser of choice (there weren’t many alternatives). Netscape grew to pack a wallop — it had an unbelievable effect on the way new Internet users approached the World Wide Web – it was a fast, nifty application, it had clever and it had useful navigation buttons. It also looked and behaves similarly on different systems. In the days before anyone could challenge of Microsoft hegemony, Netscape was flying as the only real player on the block.

The Netscape IPO (August 1995,) was stuff Internet oldies like me still talk about — shares went at $14 a shot
but, with a phenomenally persisting demand, went at double value of $28 and trebled to an unbelievable $75 on the first day of trading . AOL bought Netscape Communications for $4.2 billion 7 years ago (2000) but, while plumbing the brand for all its worth, was unable to fight Microsoft aggressive introduction of IE free with Windows.

Today, we are spoiled for choice – IE is not alone, we have also Opera and increasingly successful open source Mozilla Firefox — other startup billionaires took over from Andreessen and Clark: according to Forbes.com , Google founders Sergey Brin Larry Page and Eric Schmidt are worth $16.6, 16.6 and $6.2 billion, respectively. Amazon.com’s
Jeff Bezos has a cool $4.4 billion, Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang has $2.2 billion; Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, $3.6 billion; and eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar sits on $8.8 billion.

But Netscape remains the little browser that could.