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back to article Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

NCSA Mosaic - marking its 20th anniversary this week - was not the first web browser, but it was the first to be widely used. Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the web, describes its early days in his book Weaving the Web. Berners-Lee states that the first browser - WorldWideWeb - was text-based, and he had an early version working …

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That sounds like a complicated way of getting it to work, I always just use http://www.dejavu.org/emulator.htm when I want to muck about with antique browsers...

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That's quite cool and it loads up el Reg too!

Well the home page at least, trying to read this article gave me an Error 500 whatever that means!

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Happy

"Error 500 whatever that means!"

Internal server error from memory. Probably a really old or deprecated GET method that the server balks at.

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Joke

antique browsers...

@ Idocrase

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All your browsers are belong to us...

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Thanks for the link, nice...

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Anonymous Coward

500 error -> "Internal server error from memory. Probably a really old or deprecated GET method that the server balks at."

Usually, "500 Internal Server Error" means that someone boo-booed in their programming, permissions, or user-side server configuration. It is rare for the webserver to actually get memory problems.

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I remember when this was all fields...

..text fields that is.

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Trumpet Winsock

....bottom left corner...............that takes me back :)

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Well I hope you paid for it (as I never did)

http://thanksfortrumpetwinsock.com/

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Re: Trumpet Winsock

that takes me back :)

Was just thinking the same - fond memories of university days and hacking around the split install of Win3.11 that was used (part local, part on server) to run both Win32s and WinSock.dll properly.

Also being a fairly regular user of Lynx, and then seeing Mosaic for the first time and quite how nice the graphical web could look when all you'd had before was text and ascii art.

And my kids still don't believe me when I say that when I was their age (30-odd years ago) we had neither mobile phones, satellite TV nor the internet/www/text messaging/Facebook/Twitter (at least in common use by Joe Public for the first and last).

A sure-fire way to really make me feel old ;)

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Re: Trumpet Winsock

And not to forget the delicious sound of your modem beeping, screeching, wailing and then "connection".

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Re: Trumpet Winsock

Yes, Trumpet Winsock, NCSA Mosaic, Trumpet Mail & News Reader, and some GIF image viewer supplied on a 3½" floppy disk, and a ring-bound A4 book about 10mm thick with instructions on how to install it on Windows 3.1 and configure it for our ISP of the day, along with instructions for Macintosh and Windows 95.

I've got the booklet still somewhere here, probably still have the floppy too. We were with that ISP from about 1996 on dialup until 2002 when we moved to 512/128kbps ADSL on a static IP, and stayed on that service until late last year when the said ISP decided they were going to move us to a dynamic IP for force us onto a business plan which shaped peer-to-peer traffic to 64kbps.

So we were customers of that ISP from 1996 to 2012. Still, that screenshot does take me back... and yes, I remember the modem handshake too — in fact, I still do use dial-up modems from time to time, as some of the customers I support at my work use good ol'e 33.6kbps dial-up for remote site access.

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Re: Trumpet Winsock

Indeed! This is bringing back all sorts of memories! Trumpet Winsock! Lynx (before it was a de-oderant). I'm almost getting nostlagic for Cix as well....

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Re: Trumpet Winsock

"And my kids still don't believe me when I say that when I was their age (30-odd years ago) we had neither mobile phones, satellite TV nor the internet/www/text messaging/Facebook/Twitter (at least in common use by Joe Public for the first and last)."

LUXURY! etc etc etc.

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Re: Trumpet Winsock

"the delicious sound of your modem beeping, screeching, wailing"

As I recall, the wailing was mostly that of the user when someone picked up another phone somewhere in the house, usually many minutes into the download of a whole megabyte...

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Ah yes, the browser wars

Still remember trying to load up various sites in Netscape on the old DEC-Alpha's at university, only to see an entirely black screen apart from the message "This site has been Netscape-crippled" - because of the while standards thing.

Because of this, I find it ironic that Spyglass then went on to evolve into IE...

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Have you got the right date?

I had the same date in a calendar file but the NCSA web site gives a different date for the 1.0 version of Mosaic for Windows. I'm not sure what the correct date of Mosaic's birth is or if it has a strict birth date given the different dates for each platform...

http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/Projects/mosaic.html

&

ftp://ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Mosaic/Windows/Archive/MosaicHistory.html

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Re: Have you got the right date?

The date was for the Unix version but I couldn't find that one easily, so made do with Windows.

Tim

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Re: Have you got the right date?

"The date was for the Unix version but I couldn't find that one easily..."

Funny you should mention that. I went through this same experiment about a year ago, when I found and resurrected an SGI Indigo here at work. It had Netscape Navigator, and my results were pretty much the same as yours: very few sites opened, many caused the browser to go down in (virtual) flames.

Old UNIX systems are cool...this one was being used as a footrest until I spent close to $200 on adapters to allow use of PS2 keyboard and mouse, VGA display and twisted pair Ethernet. The payoff was a classic /etc/passwd file with usernames of people long gone from the company (but who I knew, either personally, or by reputation) and lovely graphics demos. Loads of un for the idle mind.

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http/1.0

The reason why many modern web sites don't work too well on ancient web browsers is http/1.1.

The original NCSA Mosaic did http 1.0, from a day when there were enough IPv4 addresses to go around to give each web site its own IPv4 address. Forward just a few more years and it was obvious that wasn't going to be sustainable use of a finite resource, so along game http/1.1 which allowed virtual web servers to run on a single network address. Everyone jumped on the bandwagon, for it was a good idea.

However, there was a time when Windows NT 4.0 came with a version of Internet Explorer that only did http/1.0 yet Microsoft.com didn't have a default web site on their web server IP address (which would make it available to older web browsers), so you couldn't access their web server with their web browser to be able to download updates.

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FAIL

And yet...

<blink>Blink</blink>

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Re: And yet...

What? Marc Andreessen is a weeping angel?

(Point taken though. The blink tag was a truly awful creation, and led to some abominable web design for a while.)

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For real (?) fun...

Back in about 2000 I installed a copy of Win95 OSR2 on a machine for purposes that remain obscure, probably invalid, and definitely irrelevant here. This was the build that included IE3.

So off I went to www.microsoft.com to look for a more recent build of IE. The server wouldn't let me in, because IE3 requested HTTP/0.9...

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Windows

NOW I feel old...

Mosaic was the first browser I ever used, on a Solaris workstation, which was my main work platform at the time. Actually I kept using it for several years and was annoyed by all those new web-sites that did not work right in it, because of the damn Netscape-specific extentions. Tables? Who needs them? (some of the last Mosaic versions did implement tables, but they never worked very well, IIRC).

(There should be an icon for old (in Internet time, not necessarily in real time) codgers - oh well, this comes closest)

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Boffin

Re: NOW I feel old...

I still get flashbacks when I hear the sound of a modem handshaking.

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Re: NOW I feel old...

.. and PTSD from busy signals?

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Re: NOW I feel old...

> I still get flashbacks when I hear the sound of a modem handshaking.

Just yesterday I heard that when visiting a pharmacy in Helsinki (and had a flashback...). I have no idea why they use modems any more, good and affordable ADSL service is available from several operators, not to mention the 3G dongles + data packages you practically get as freebies in cereal packets. Perhaps their payment processor insists on landline modems for security reasons.

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Re: NOW I feel old...

A previous post referred to "old DEC Alphas". I can remember working on Vaxes when the Alpha was a new thing. Actually, I think I can remember working on PDP/11s when the Vax was new.

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Childcatcher

Re: NOW I feel old...

"Just yesterday I heard that when visiting a pharmacy in Helsinki (and had a flashback...). I have no idea why they use modems any more, good and affordable ADSL service is available from several operators, not to mention the 3G dongles + data packages you practically get as freebies in cereal packets. Perhaps their payment processor insists on landline modems for security reason."

Ya know it could've just been something as simple as a Fax Machine.

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Paris Hilton

Re: NOW I feel old...

It could have been a fail-over. Various payment systems around here fail-over to dial-up for cashless transactions in the even the Internet goes down... though we all know nothing on the Internet EVER goes down. Also, ISTR there are some compliance differences when using dial-up versus Internet. As well, some insurance carriers will only accept transmittals via direct dial-up. Amazingly enough, in 2013 with e-mail and Internet availability abound, so many business will only send or receive documents via fax.

Paris, paradoxically ON the Internet...

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Heady Days

Mosaic *was* the killer app for the WWW. Running on SunOS with X and a colour monitor, all the ingredients for the modern browser were there:

- Text and Images displayed together for a page

- Coloured highlighting of hyperlinks

- Forward and backward buttons, for a good sesh browsing the web

- Rendered presentation of other protocols (ftp, gopher and IIRC news)

Lynx allowed you to read from the web, but Mosaic allowed you to browse.

Its accompanying page "What's new with NCSA Mosaic" was the de facto chronicle of the expansion of the WWW over its first few years. Heady times, and the importance of NCSA in building on Cern's work was pivotal: Mosaic on the client side, NCSA server, and "What's New" in disseminating information.

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IE and licence fees?

I remember a few years back the story being that IE was a free product (back when Microsoft never gave anything away) in order to avoid paying anything to NCSA, since the licence fee was negotiated on a "percentage of profit" basis. Can anyone confirm/deny this?

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Re: IE and licence fees?

I also recall that rumour

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Re: IE and licence fees?

I was happy to pay Netscape for their browser until Internet Explorer 3 came out. Figured why should I pay for something Microsoft was giving away free? I still have my 'Midnight Madness' MS t-shirt for getting IE3 downloaded over a 28.8 USRobotics external serial modem in record time (<24hrs).

Of course this was Microsoft's .plan all along to drive Netscape into the dirt - had I known back in those exciting days what was happening, I never would have helped them.

I still miss Netscape.

sent via Firefox 20.0.1.... facepalm is for me.

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Re: IE and licence fees?

It was Spyglass -- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyglass,_Inc. and the associated references.

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Re: IE and licence fees?

My memory is signing up (by post!) to ISP Demon Internet, then when I got my account details making my very first connection to the Internet via Windows 95 - and then realizing I didn't have a clue what to do when the prompt said "connected". It was only after calling Demon support that I was snottily told I needed to start my web browser. What web browser? So then it was off to Escom to buy IE3 for £50 in the guise of Microsoft Plus, though whether the browser was free and I was actually paying £50 for some themes and Space Cadet Pinball is debatable I guess.

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Trumpet?

I remember hearing that. But I came late to the Web, though had used Prestel then various services via X.25 via 300 baud dialup PAD.

So though my first Browser was a Mosaic version, it used MS 32bit TCP/IP for WFWG 3.11. Dial up modem on the PC.

October 1995 we trashed our NT Server installing MS beta proxy (Catapult?) and after fixing it installed Wingate 1.0 to share the phone line Modem on demand to five PCs with WFWG3.11. We put Win95 on only 1 machine (for kids to game) and gradually added NT4.0 Workstations with Netscape in 1996 onward. A couple of Win98 PCs in 1999 for the kids to play games on.

Today an 11 year old Laptop with XP and Firefox connecting to Internet using my own design of Linux based Router & WiFi (108Mbps WiFi on Laptop) , cable modem to outdoor 10GHz 14km Microwave link (8Mbps/1Mbps speed). 2 x 1 Gbps switches for the rest of the Network. No MS Server, Linux Server, though we did have a Microsoft Server for nearly 18 years.

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The World Wide What

the hell is the internet is for? Happy Days.

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Takes me back

I first used the internet when I started at Uni in 1994...

Lots of Sun think clients thought the tallest building (I forget the name, but I think they have pulled it down now) at DeMontfort (using those wonderful paternosters to get up and down!). Lowly IT students were had to use the older monochrome machines (software engineering got the colour ones). But the monitors were absolutely crisp and clear even so. Loved those machines (not the shared CPU and internet connection which were woefully under specified!)...

And of course all had Mosaic on them. A couple of years before I was connected at home using IE...

Thanks for bringing the memories back to the surface :)

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Still works fine for me

MicroVMS 4.6, CMU IP stack, MicroVAX II in a BA123 cab - now we're cooking.

There appears to be no nostalgia icon, there used to be one, only cost two bob and you still had money left over for an beer and a mars bar......

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Must be almost 20 years since I started using the Web then! I was working using a system which had 3 or 4 large ring binders of documentation on all the commands when one day a message on the users email list (remember the days of email list and digests!) came from someone in a US university to say that he'd found this new program called Mosaic and he'd converted all the documentation into HTML so that by going to a web page on a server he'd set up at his university you could type in a command name and it would display the documentation for that command ... it seemed amazing that it was quicker to get info from a computer in Idaho than it was to pull a ring binder off the shelf above my desk!

Also, back in those days to help you navigate around the "web" the NCSA web site helpfully included a "new websites of the month" page ... later that became "new websites of the week" before disappearing. And true to rule on the development of new technologies one of the early sites list was from a Dutch University CS dept which among other contents proudly advertised that it considered it had the largest online collection of pr0n in Europe!

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*sigh*

The good old days, when every web site could be listed on a single page and everybody played xpilot in their "spare" time.

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A friend first showed me the Internet years ago

bOObs

That was the first thing I saw online.

Not much has changed.

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Mozilla

Seem to remember the first release of Netscape had something like "Yes, this is the Mozilla" emblazoned across the top. Always thought this was a scrunched version of "Mosaic Killer".

Anyone know if Mozilla (the name) came from something else? Who do we blame for attaching "-zilla" to everything?

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Re: Mozilla

Who do we blame for attaching "-zilla" to everything?

God. As in; "Godzilla".....

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Re: Mozilla

Yes, Mozilla came from "Mosaic Killer"

-Jon

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Spring 2014 will be my 20th Anniversary of web use.

Started with Bulletin Boards then got a 'Internet/email account with Direct Connection (first company that looked vaguely professional in the back of Computer Shopper magazine IIRC).

My own static IP connection and email (no one else I knew had it so not much use) and then I upgraded my modem (an Amstrad 2400baud from Game) to a MultiTech 19200 and also plugged in a 16550 serial port into Dad's 486 Win3.1 PC (jumper pin IRQ config thanks very much for asking), downloaded and configured Trumpet Winsock, then Netscape V1.0 and my first grey webpage appeared.

It was good fun back then. People used to visit me to see this new amazing thing I even lectured my bosses on how the Internet worked for their emerging web strategy (the first thing I told them was "no large images!" so what did they do? Stuck a huge image on the homepage that took two minutes to load. I gave up at that point).

Then Dixons/Freeserve came along and kind of ruined it all.

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Go

Build it yourself

Mosaic's been 'ported' to modern Unix machines (the original source is too primitive to build using our futuristic compilers). It's an easy build, and even works on 64-bit machines:

https://github.com/alandipert/ncsa-mosaic

It's scarily small.

Still totally unusable, of course.

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Only 20?

Cool. I'm clearly not as old as I sometimes fear, when I first came to t'web, Netscape was ubiquitous and I never even saw Mosaic in live use. (mid 90's, BT, and you had to get written permission to "surf the net")

Pleased to note that that first ever website I looked at is still alive too: http://www.doggiesnot.com

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Happy

I remember my first browser as the IBM WebExplorer running on OS/2 3 Warp (1994?) and connecting to the net via the IBM Network.

Lord it was an awful experience, but the package came with (I kid you not) a huge, paper map of the globe annotated with web sites around the world. An early sight was an english language newspaper hosted in Moscow. I was awed that sitting in a house in upstate New York I could access a server in Russia with a few taps on my keyboard.

Crude, but I was hooked.

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Takes me back

Back to the Comp Sci lab at uni, running Mosaic off an HP-UX machine from a Mac LC. I seem to recall the Web was just university pages and Star Trek fans sites back then.

Happy days :-)

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