Monday, December 08, 2014

Browser Wars




In the early 90s, Mosaic was a software product for scientific visualization. Marc Andreessen , developed it at the University of Illinois, at Urbana/Champaign. It was a tool to help astrophysicists with big data sets, both the result of calculations, and observations. Soon it was realized that this, so-called "browser", could help the general public to navigate the Internet, which had recently been freed by the Department of Defense, at the end of the Cold War. There was a big increase in the number of Internet Service Providers. I got my first home connection through America Online, which I still use.

To some, it became clear, that personal computer companies, were in danger of becoming obsolete. Thus we went from the Cold War, to the Browser Wars.

The main players were Microsoft, and Netscape, the company spearheaded by Andreessen. Netscape lost to the monopolistic forces behind Microsoft. Nevertheless, due to the lack of vision of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, two young scientists from Stanford University, Sergei Brin, and Larry Page, created a killer application, the Search Engine powering Google.

Now Google is in its way to becoming the bigger company, that Microsoft never was.

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