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 …

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I remember using Arachne on Dos many years ago I like its email programe very much

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arachne_%28web_browser%29

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Pint

Ahh...those were the days.... Sportster 14k4 modem, Compaq luggable DX2/66, Windows 3.1, Trumpet Winsock, NCSA Mosaic 1.0 and Demon Internet :)

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Windows

The days when Internet Cafes did not server coffee

It was 1995 when I first tried a web search, not having access to any Uni facilities it was by visiting an 'Internet Cafe' in Liverpool on the main high street drag. It was full of terminals and no coffee to be seen.

After this it was a matter of months before I bought a Win 3.1 PC secondhand and was connected via modem.

Then I drummed up a simple site (with photos via a handheld 'roll over' scanner) to send guests to my Aunt's B&B. in those early days web competition was so thin that it did rather well, majority of customer seemed to be from the US which was several years (maybe 5?) ahead of the UK in home connectivity and general web access.

Anyone else remember upgrading their modem every 4 months?

The £30/month phone bills that could be run up to the ISP were oddly similar to what I pay now for broadband.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The days when Internet Cafes did not server coffee

> It was 1995 when I first tried a web search, not having access to any Uni facilities it was by visiting an 'Internet Cafe' in Liverpool on the main high street drag.

I remember setting that up!!! It was only there for a few days and used HP712 workstations for browsing and an HP735 as a proxy. The internet connection was via an ISDN card in the 735.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The days when Internet Cafes did not server coffee

But back then, £30 was real money!

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Happy

Mosaic changed my life

In 1994 my daughter was born, she was diagnosed with a very rare genetic condition called Costello syndrome. She was the 23rd person in the world known to have the condition and little was known about her future or outcomes.

I used gopher to try and find information with little success, and then saw mosaic, it was amazing. Suddenly users had a way of finding information in a way that was simpler to use then the previous tools. My thoughts at the time were that my daughter is the 23rd person with this condition then I will set about finding somebody else. Working in IT at a university I had access to an early Novell web-server, so I built a small website, archived references to all the medical publications I could find, an hoped that somebody else would find us. Amazingly someone did and our support group was born.

In 1996 when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer the articles referenced on that early website helped to save her life, New scientist included the story in an article 04 October 1997 called Surfer, heal thyself.

Our support group was one of the first, or maybe the first rare disorder support groups just on the web. Even today it is estimated that the numbers of people with my daughters condition is less then 500 world wide, yet our support group has members from all corners of the globe. Mosaic gave me the reason to learn HTML. learn how to make a website and change not only my life but the health of others.

Our current website is http://costellokids.com

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Happy

Re: Mosaic changed my life

Oops - costellokids.com seems to be down.

Too many curious Reg readers!

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Re: Mosaic changed my life

sorry if you visited the above link the site was in maintenance mode, a Drupal update messed up the database, all fixed now.

selfless promotion - visit

http://costellokids.com

An interesting side note, since those early days the web has assisted many researchers scientists and families around the world to understand genetic conditions better, families noticed connection's between a number of unique syndromes. And now a group of 9 different syndromes are known to be related making the RASopathies the largest group of genetic disorders known.

I doubt that the level of collaboration that is happening now would ever of happened without those forst steps through the mosaic browser and a few people who could see how it could be used as a tool to bring groups together.

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Happy

Marc Andreessen

I'd never heard of the guy until this week, and this is the second time this week I've read about him from two different news sites on two different topics, the other was about google glass.

The only thing I can say about him with any great certainty is -

He has the most egg-like head I've ever seen, it's almost like he's out of coneheads.

It may not lways have been the case, I think at one point he had hair, but now his head is marvellously ovaliform.

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Silver badge

I recall beating the TCP stack into my Commodore 286, spending the better part of an evening getting my 24k modem configured and working and dialing into a series of BBS. One of which had an 'internet' pipe.

Bluewave anyone? Fidonet?

Good old days.

(and DRDOS + GEM thanks, even then I wasn't an MS fan.)

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

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Windows

Re: Menus and Toolbars :)

Yes, until you went to a page with lots (meaning a few hundred K) of images and Windows 3.11 ran out of memory and forgot how to repaint the screen then crashed.

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Trollface

Re: Menus and Toolbars :)

Mmmm, and not too long back, viewing a page with an extremely large iframe in the Windows version of Safari used to make modern Windows variants do something similar.

How things have changed... Oh wait!

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Cello

Having tried Mosaic v1.0 I have to admit to preferring Cello (circa '92), its default pale lemon background was much easier on the eye than the grey of Mosaic.

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Pint

AMosaic

Back in the early 90's I only had access to an Amiga 500 (and a Spectrum 128K ;-)

So my first use of Mosaic was the Amiga port, AMosaic, in 1993.

Just getting a TCP/IP stack onto the Amiga was a challenge, I'd only accessed bulletin boards with my 14.4 modem up till then, and those didn't need a network stack.

I'd had so much trouble getting the TCP/IP stack and dialer to run properly, (lack of available support information at the time) that I decided to create a web page dedicated to getting an Amiga online, installing the stack, getting a dialer to work, and specific settings for various ISPs such a Demon. Was a popular site for a while, even getting mentioned in a few Amiga print mags back in the day.

I was a regular on newgroup demon.ip.support.amiga, and IRC chat channel #DISA, helping people out, and just general chat

Happy days....

I also used an Amiga port of Linx, just because it was fast, especially over dial-up.

Beer: Well it is the start of the weekend :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Lets not forget that there were still a lot of people using Amigas, STs and Acorn machines back then. The rise of the Windows PC at home had started but it wasn't until the late 90s that the Internet and Windows machines at home really took off.

I remember using AMosaic in 1995 and how crashy it was. The web was the next big thing after Gopher failed to catch on.

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I think it would be fairer to say that the web overtook Gopher - Gopher hadn't failed, it was still growing when the Web turned up and left Gopher in the dust.

Gopher had point and click clients before we had graphical web browsers, but it was much more about content and organization, rather than presentation. HTML gave more control over presentation.

Form over function - some things never change....

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Ah, the memories

Win32s, my first foray into truly insane software. Working on one in a line of boxes I put together myself sporting an AMD 386DX-40 with a paper white monitor and Windows 3.1 with Win32s. The hours I spent debugging random race conditions! The later released Windows for Workgroups (which had 32-bit support built-in) would be much more stable, and after all that switching to NT 3.51 as my personal desktop O/S would be a no-brainer. Netscape's browsers were much better than what Spyglass, and later Microsoft, released, but at least here in the U.S. the momentum was behind the "free" browser from Microsoft. Regrettably I happen to have been the guy at my company who figured out how to successfully deploy IE using the then newly released IEAK. My guilt over that is something I've learned to accept over time.

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My first steps in to computers was the old zx81 then i found out about girls it was not untill I started wiht ham radios and a programe called FBB a radio linked BBS and using baycom boards. then venturing onto the net Demon was my isp. but some of the good stuff still out there seems to be forgotton or not know by users today like IRC and Newsgroups. Even had one kid say to me a few months back about a new program called Mirc and recon its going to wipe messenger off the web.

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Thumb Up

Ha ha ha, my first computer was also a ZX81, given to me for my 16th birthday in 1982. Except that in my case, in the struggle of computers vs. girls, computers won...!

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Black Helicopters

The Olden Days

I worked for BT from the 1980s and had access to "fast" connectivity via the X.25 network. My first internet activity was via a BIX account (Byte magazine) which was a bulletin board, as was common at the time, but they had a gateway onto the actual internet (I forget the details).

I do remember dealing with Microsoft in the mid-nineties. They wanted us to build them a dial-up bulletin board network to compete with Compuserve, even though it was obvious to anyone who had a clue that the concept was a dead duck and the internet was the coming thing.

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Happy

It was my first

You never forget your first.

I honestly didn't see what the fuss was about until browsers (and servers) started handling pictures. Right then it had BBS beat all to hell.

Then came tables and that's when I built my 2nd website. (websites without some kind of layout frame structure look like, well, see the picture. A list.)

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Thumb Up

Re: It was my first

1994 ?, used a SLIP connection from an .edu account to the "World Wide Web" with Mosaic.

I thought I was Christopher Freakin' Columbus!

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Anonymous Coward

Ha ha ha

My site displays just fine. See, I knew there was a reason for sticking to W3C standards?!?

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A few minor corrections...

I'm not really sure why the comments about the history are attributed to TBL who was on the other side of the world and wouldn't really have any knowledge.

This statement: "According to Berners-Lee, a manager there wanted a project for students to “show off their programming skills, ”and having tried out ViolaWWW, got the idea of making a new web browser" is pretty much just 100% inaccurate.

There was no manager who suggested the project. It was taken up by Marc and Eric on the side after Marc came across TBLs work. I don't think it's fair to say that Eric did most of the programming either. Although I do think Eric did more of the complicated pieces (Marc would be the first to admit that Eric was the better programmer) and Marc did more of the vision.

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Anonymous Coward

Sulking Firefox?

For the first time I can remember - Firefox 20.0.1 just crashed on me while doing an "upvote" in this article.

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May I just point out...

Facebook works in Lynx. Or the mobile version does anyway. Surprisingly well in fact - I actually use it for real that way sometimes.

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Anonymous Coward

Lynx was my first experience of the web, some time after I'd become accustomed to IRC, FTP, usenet, and - yes - Gopher.

There were no portals of which I was aware, and no search engines. I went to the site foe the University my mom was working at, and quickly ran out of links to anything interesting.

"This 'web' thing," I thought, in a moment of profound opacity, "is going nowhere."

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JumpStation

If anyone's interested, on 21st Dec 2013, it'll be 20 years since the first web-search engine first became available. We didn't think it was first---we thought everyone had one. Sigh. Hi, Jon!

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Silver badge

Of course they don't work.

I'm surprised sites today run on modern browsers half the time. No-one hand-codes sites any more, and even the most basic sites seem to demand an ugly wad of code to handle interactive menus and dynamic content.

What happened to simple design, centered around the content being presented?

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