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Mosaic, the First HTML Browser That Could Display Images Alongside Text, Turns 25 (wired.com) 132

NCSA Mosaic 1.0, the first web browser to achieve popularity among the general public, was released on April 22, 1993. It was developed by a team of students at the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and had the ability to display text and images inline, meaning you could put pictures and text on the same page together, in the same window. Wired reports: It was a radical step forward for the web, which was at that point, a rather dull experience. It took the boring "document" layout of your standard web page and transformed it into something much more visually exciting, like a magazine. And, wow, it was easy. If you wanted to go somewhere, you just clicked. Links were blue and underlined, easy to pick out. You could follow your own virtual trail of breadcrumbs backwards by clicking the big button up there in the corner. At the time of its release, NCSA Mosaic was free software, but it was available only on Unix. That made it common at universities and institutions, but not on Windows desktops in people's homes.

The NCSA team put out Windows and Mac versions in late 1993. They were also released under a noncommercial software license, meaning people at home could download it for free. The installer was very simple, making it easy for just about anyone to get up and running on the web. It was then that the excitement really began to spread. Mosaic made the web come to life with color and images, something that, for many people, finally provided the online experience they were missing. It made the web a pleasure to use.

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Mosaic, the First HTML Browser That Could Display Images Alongside Text, Turns 25

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @03:04AM (#56492771)
    You mean something like WorldWideWeb [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You need to read better. The title says "Display Images Alongside Text".

      Following your own link: https://www.w3.org/People/Bern... [w3.org]

      The inline images such as the world/book icon and the CERN icon, would have been displayed in separate windows, as it didn't at first do inline images.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        WorldWideWeb came out in 1990, Mosaic came out in 1993. So, "at first" refers to 1990. By 1993, WorldWideWeb could display images "alongside text", as the 1993 screen shot on that very page shows. ViolaWWW came out in 1992, before Mosaic, and could also mix text and images. So, I'd say "you need to read better".

      • WorldWideWeb could display images alongside text eventually. It's not entirely clear when it gained the functionality. (By the way, the fact that it had to wait for NEXTStep to support it is a clear indication of how backwards even NEXTStep was compared to Smalltalk where implementing such a feature was much easier.)
        • Imagine how much better the world would be if Smalltalk had been used instead of Javascript
          • Well, Javascript came pretty late. Java was earlier and was relatively heavy on resources when it was new, and smalltalk at the time was even heavier. Imagine runing this on Windows 3.1 and a 286...

        • "WorldWideWeb could display images alongside text eventually."

          I don't know why this is important, ithe web worked perfectly with text only with the speed those days.
          After the images got possible, everything went downhill.
          We oldsters remember that the stupid teen 'webmasters' with their Macs posted the original full sized photo to the webpage, they tested it locally and obviously it was quite snappy.

          Over an acoustic coupler, not so much.

        • What really kicked things into high gear was when ther was a browser PC and Mac. Before then these browsers were common at universities where you had access to computers you could never afford to have at home, whereas the the home computers at the time were relatively simple with dumb operating systems with very limited and proprietary networking. If you weren't playing games or playing with spreadsheets, the web browser actually made a home computer useful.

          It was a bit like email. I used it since 1982 a

    • "In earlier versions, images are displayed in separate windows, until NeXTSTEP's Text class gained support for Image objects."... RTFWiki

    • Yeah, a better title would have been "Mosaic turns 25". It wasn't the best and it wasn't the first, but it was pioneering. I'm old, back to the BBS days, but Mosaic didn't float my boat, Netscape did. I'm sure we'll get the "Netscape turns 25" next year or so. The fun fact I remember is that Mozilla is short for "Mosaic Killer". Also, SeaMonkey rules.
      • by haruchai ( 17472 )

        "a better title would have been "Mosaic turns 25"

        Who's still using Mosaic? The last release was in '97.
        Saying that it's "turning 25" is like saying my grampa who died 45 years ago would be "turning 110"

        • That's apples to oranges. Software never "dies". It may fall out of favor and stop being updated, but it's still out there and quite possibly being used. IIRC as of a few years ago there was still some mechanic shop using a Commodore 64 to balance drive axles because the software was still serving their needs. I'd wager the last release of that C64 software was before Mosiac was even released at all.

    • You mean something like WorldWideWeb [wikipedia.org]

      As evil atheist pointed out, you missed a bit while reading the article. Anyway, that desktop is very very similar to what my own desktop currently looks like (I run WindowMaker).

      • I didn't miss it, I just couldn't fit it into the idiotic subject box that is both unusable AND mandatory at the same time.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      According to Tim Berners-Lee [w3.org]:

      Where does Mosaic fit in?

      A: "As I understand it, Marc Andreessen at NCSA was shown ViolaWWW by a colleague (David Thompson?) at NCSA. Marc downloaded Midas and tried it out. He and Eric Bina then wrote their own browser for unix from scratch. Later, several other folks at NCSA joined the team to port the idea to Mac and PC. As they did, Tom Bruce at Cornell was writing "Cello" for the PC which came out neck-and-neck with Mosaic on the PC.

      Marc and Eric did a number of very import

  • by Eaglehawk ( 203548 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @03:22AM (#56492807)

    Never has a Slashdot article title made me feel so old...

    • Never has a Slashdot article title made me feel so old...

      You're alright as long as you don't mention Gopher.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      Never has a Slashdot article title made me feel so old...

      Old school. 1.0... forget it, I downloaded an alpha/beta version of Mosaic on my Mac around September 1993 right when I got back to school and moved into my dorm. And I remember that memory issue... that they fixed in October. Heck I might have even emailed them about the bug. But my own memory is getting a bit fuzzy 'cause that was a quarter century ago.

    • by pbr ( 122134 )

      I remember jumping thru hoops to get it to compile and run on my Sun workstations.
      Browsed the whole damned web in about 5 minutes, since there were only a handful of public sites.
      Went back to using TinyFugue and hanging out with my pals in LambdaMOO.

    • by Targon ( 17348 )

      I still remember saving/loading programs on cassette tape back in the late 1970s and early 1980s with my first modem being a US Robotics 212A 1200 baud modem in 1986 I think it was. Far higher quality than the Zoom 2400 baud modem I replaced it with, that's for sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was a radical step forward for the web, which was at that point, a rather dull experience. It took the boring "document" layout of your standard web page and transformed it into something much more visually exciting, like a magazine.

    And here I am, on my newish tablet, having turned off the auto d/ling of images, stop scripts, ad block, and a dozen other things to get web pages as close to pure text as possible because the carnival neon-sign autovideo blaring nature of web 3.0 sucks more ass than a jr Dem

  • One of the first web pages I can't seem to forget about it about how cherry pop tarts could catch fire in a toaster under the right conditions. Does anyone else 'member that? Good times.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      One of the first web pages I can't seem to forget about it about how cherry pop tarts could catch fire in a toaster under the right conditions. Does anyone else 'member that? Good times.

      I think they were strawberry, and I remember something like that. In fact, if you buy pop tarts today, they make the heating optional, and recommend very quick heating times.

      Apparently it lead to a few fires and lawsuits.

      • by SendBot ( 29932 )

        Thanks, and it was strawberry pop tarts. I remember thinking the internet was so vast but then I ran into that page more than once so I figured it couldn't really be that big.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I browsed lots of sites with alleged cherry popping going on in the meantime. Because it was the models' 50th 'movie', it seemed unlikely.

  • When IE 3.0 introduced the <marquee></marquee> tag is when we reached peak Web 1.0

  • Rule 34 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @03:59AM (#56492905)

    "Mosaic made the web come to life with color and images, something that, for many people, finally provided the online experience they were missing."

    P0rn.

    "It made the web a pleasure to use."

    I'm sure it did!

    • Re: Rule 34 (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I dunno. I still used Usenet for porn. Otherwise there was the top down slow loading issue. "Looking good....looking good...looking good...argh it's a tranny!" Meanwhile the meters running

      Usenet was connect, download, disconnect, fetch tissues, chug at your leisure

    • there was plenty of porn long before Mosaic, all Mosaic did was let you see the same stuff in a browser. From memory though it was usually so slow at rendering that you were better off with downloading and viewing anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mosaic added very little to Erwise which was the first browser with a GUI. Made in Finland like all relevant things :)

  • Just last week I installed Sgi Irix on my Octane (was only using Linux before) - wow, was that a adventurous experience. Also early Netscape. Unfortunately the WWW does not look that great without CSS, and too old HTTPS/SSL support: https://youtu.be/AkXB8M-0rTM?t... [youtu.be]
  • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @05:59AM (#56493117)

    Used it ...

    And I remember that fancy new IBM WebExplorer ... on OS/2

    • by CaseyB ( 1105 )

      OS/2 2.0 was the shit. I used to have my phone number in my usenet signature, and once got a call from John Soyring, the guy in charge of the OS/2 program, to thank me after I posted a glowing review of it.

      • by Hydrian ( 183536 )

        Dude,
            You are old. You felt safe enough to publicly post your phone number on the public internet. (I remember those days too)

  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @06:35AM (#56493181) Homepage Journal
    The early Internet (and BBSes etc.) was nice because it were faceless, and you would be judged by you merits rather than mugshots. Fast forward quarter a century, and it's all about posting polished images of your luxurious lifestyle.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think it was about 10 years ago that there was this movement trying to get people to be "real" on the internet because if you are presenting yourself openly you are less likely to be an asshole online. This lead to two significant discoveries; a lot of people are fake as shit online and terrified of their dirty laundry, a lot of people I know are absolute assholes.

      I'll take matching wits against some random idiot on IRC vs having somebody I thought I knew spout random nonsense on Facebook any day.

      Posting

      • I think it was about 10 years ago that there was this movement trying to get people to be "real" on the internet because if you are presenting yourself openly you are less likely to be an asshole online. This lead to two significant discoveries; a lot of people are fake as shit online and terrified of their dirty laundry, a lot of people I know are absolute assholes.

        Good point. Like any attempt to improve your image, this quickly turns against itself. For instance, a row of lawyers in suits on the website of a hip new startup doesn't exactly instil confidence in its tech.

  • It was VERY revolutionary - start of a new era ...
  • Marc Andreessen (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @08:12AM (#56493365)
    Shortly after Mosaic was released, Andreessen made a copy of the source code [wikipedia.org], moved to San Francisco and repackaged it as Netscape Navigator. That was one of the most profitable copies of code anyone ever made.
  • Proving you should NEVER trust me to make tech predictions, upon seeing Mosaic, I will forever be remembered as saying "Who'd ever use that, Gopher is WAY more efficient"

    Oops.

    Min

  • by beheaderaswp ( 549877 ) * on Tuesday April 24, 2018 @09:05AM (#56493603)

    What a weird feeling.

    To think I went through Archie, Veronica, Gopher... even before PPP through SLIP. The days of completely open mail relays, anonymous FTP, and all the UNIX. That's all there was really... it was a big blank chalkboard. Techies were racing to write on it.

    Yea it makes me feel old. But I'm glad I got to see it.

  • I remember trying out Mosiac back when I first was trying out the internet (I'd say around 1994-ish). It was interesting but at the time Netscape was just much, much better so I didn't use it much aside from just playing around.

  • Anyone else remember the chimera browser from about the same time that could also do embedded images? Not the Mozilla-based one that became camino, but the original 1.x versions (from UNLV, I think?). Looked at my old lab notebooks and I used that chimera in a series of demos with homegrown video-over-IP in April, 1995. Didn't embed the video in the browser display proper, but added code to let the browser fork a separate video-over-IP player that displayed the stream.
  • Am I the only one still in 2018 who whenever I install a new webbrowser, one of the first things I do is to turn the default background colour back to mosaic-grey? I cannot remember the precise colour code, but I suspect #C0C0C0 (192, 192, 192) is a good approximation. The reason I do this is so that any plaintext file looks just like I'm used to seeing it when I see it through a web-browser. Likewise, any HTML document without the colours defined would look like how HTML documents looked like before Netsca

  • There was no "World Wide Web" prior to HTML. There was an Internet(and still other networks such as bitnet), but the idea of the web really was derived from gopher. Gopher allowed an administrator to set up a menu style layout to find information, and what made HTML(the language web pages are written in), is the ability to have links within a document that would then connect you directly to other documents. Lynx was the go-to command line web browser, non-graphical, and MOSAIC was the graphical web br

  • I remember the day (actually very very late at night) that I was finally able to compile Mosaic on the Amiga 500 and look at a "modern" web page ie a headline, some text and a jpeg image. At the time it was a pretty big accomplishment and very exciting.

    Oh, and get off my lawn.

  • Au contraire, what made the web a pleasure to use was multiple displays and tabbed browsing, open to motionless page views.

    To this day, I write custom CSS that removes the majority of the images for most web sites (I turn this off when I think an image might actually matter to the article at hand). I wrote another one this morning, for a website that displayed too much non-essential cruft. (Stat check: I now have 300 user styles, and 95% of these do nothing but subtract visual cruft.)

    If the image supports

  • I used Mosaic for a few days in 1994 or early 1995, just before Netscape .9 came out. At the time I was active on the CalStateLA/K-12 usenet feed (free to 'students'), which was moderated by a total idiot who eventually went to the L.A. Freenet and ruined that too. Said idiot spent most of his budget trying to develop a child-friendly browser based on cello. Apparently it never worked and he was much ridiculed for his goal as well as his attempts. As he moderated a newsgroup out of existence everybody m

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