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RIP Netscape Navigator (1994 - 2008)


Soon, Netscape Navigator - the first highly successful graphical web browser (yeah, yeah, I know Mosaic came before Netscape, but I don't remember seeing Mosaic floppy-disks bundled with my PC World and Macworld magazines in 1995, at least not under the name "Mosaic") - will be nothing more than a footnote in Internet history. Let's take a moment of silence for the big N. OK, that was long enough.

AOL, the parent company of this blog and Netscape, has announced that they will cease support for the current version of Netscape as of February 1, 2008. Netscape, which at its peak in the mid-1990s held 80% of the web browser marketshare, and was a player in Browser Wars 1.0.

Long before Apple released Safari in 2003, Netscape was a pretty familiar application to scores of Mac users. Even after Apple started shipping Internet Explorer for Mac with OS 8.1 and enabling it as the default browser, Netscape Navigator was still included, and at least in my experience, often preferred over IE for Mac. The very first web browser I ever used was Netscape Navigator 1.something on a Power Mac 6200 (which some say was the worst Mac ever) way back in 1995. Although other browsers were available at the time, Netscape was the first to be cross platform (and perform the same across platforms - which was an important distinction).

Shortly before AOL bought Netscape in 1998, the code base of Netscape Communicator 4 was released under an open-source license. This project, which was called Mozilla, eventually resulted into what we now know as Firefox (note that the Mozilla team basically rewrote the code for what became the basis of the Mozilla suite, later forked as Firefox, from the ground up, as the Communicator code was too much of a mess).

Although Netscape is gone, a theme is available for the current version of Firefox to make it look like Netscape 9. No word on when a theme like the image below will become available. Be careful what you joke about: Kroc Camen in the comments pointed out this.

Netscape Navigator 2 for classic Mac OS

Thanks C.K. Sample III

[via Download Squad]

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