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Netscape

Contributor(s): Chuck Bury and Ulrich Messerle

Netscape Communications was a computer services company best known for its Web browser, Navigator. Navigator was one of the two most popular Web browsers in the 1990s.

In 1993, a team led by Marc Andreesen created Mosaic at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Mosaic was the first Web browser that had a graphical user interface (GUI). The browser was subsequently renamed "Navigator," to avoid copyright infringement. Netscape Communications was taken public by Marc Andreessen and entrepreneur Jim Clark in 1995, capitalizing on the growing interest in the World Wide Web. Netscape's hugely successful IPO is widely held to be the beginning of the 1990s Internet boom.

Although Navigator was initially the predominant product in terms of usability and number of users, Microsoft's Internet Explorer (MSIE) browser took a significant lead in usage, due in large part to the decision to bundle the browser for free with the Windows 95 operating system. This action led to a long-lasting antitrust suit against Microsoft by the U.S. Justice Department. Microsoft's investment of programming and capital in IE eventually resulted in a more stable browser over time than Netscape's increasingly buggy, feature-laden version. Coupled with Microsoft's bundling strategy and marketing efforts, IE won the war to become the Internet's primary browser.

In 1998, Netscape started the open source Mozilla project, which eventually resulted in the Firefox Web browser.

Netscape Communications is now part of America Online (AOL). AOL initially envisioned the Netscape Web site as a Web portal, providing a source of revenue through advertising and e-commerce. After the antitrust ruling found that Microsoft had held and abused monopolistic power, Microsoft settled with AOL for $750 million dollars. As part of the settlement, AOL gained the rights to use and distribute Internet Explorer. Although Time Warner formally disbanded the company in 2003, the latest version of the Netscape browser may still be downloaded from Netscape's Web site.

Entrepreneur Jason Calcanis leveraged the Netscape brand to create "Propeller," a social bookmarking and news site similar to Digg.com.

This was last updated in November 2007

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