25 years ago, Mosaic 1.0 was released


In case anyone isn’t familiar with this:


Mosaic was followed by Netscape Navigator whose current descendant is Mozilla Firefox.

I don’t think I got on the internet until 1994 and I never used Mosaic–I was on dial-up and used Lynx. And it was a few years later that I got a faster speed and used either Netscape or Internet Explorer.

Anyone here use Mosaic? What do you remember of the early days of the web?

Mosaic was the first browser i ever used, around 1995. It was while working at a Federal agency. Prior to this i had used CompuServe and AOL from home, so this software was like light years better.

Still use Firefox everyday. Mosaic was an amazing piece of technology.

I remember using some text-mode browser at some point before installing Mosaic. Mosaic did inspire me to create a simply styled page where people could download papers, get contact info, etc.

As for early days, I had the distinct impression that things like character-set mismatches, non-seamless handling of multimedia and attachments, lack of Unicode support, etc., were keeping the browsing experience from being optimal; yet people were working on it and it took a few years to get it basically sorted out.

ETA I don’t recall CompuServe offering too much connectivity outside the CompuServe ecosystem, but that was more like 1985. Still, has anyone archived the pages/forums, or are they all lost down the bit bucket?

yep, my first introduction to the “modern” internet was my first year of university, running Mosaic, on Windows 3.11. But it was an older version which relied on X, so it had to launch under the eXcursion X-server for Windows.

i remember mosaic i think i used it with aol 1.5 …….

I remember downloading both the Windows and Mac versions in 1993. I was fascinated by the concept of networked hypertext after having played with Guide in 1986 and HyperCard in 1987.

Two years later I used it to find and purchase a book I had been trying to find since I was a kid. A new company called Amazon had it after I had wasted many trips to used book shops.

That might have been Lynx:

That may be a quarter of a century, which sounds quite a long time, but it’s almost no time at all. The change since then has been so rapid.

I used it. I still remember the sense of amazement at being able to look at somebody else’s lab results without needing to use rlogin!

All you needed was the program, the address, and you could see any text and pictures they’d posted. It downloaded and displayed automatically. It was SO COOL!

And any of you who don’t know WTF rlogin, finger and the talk daemon are, are hereby cordially invited to get off my two pots of plants :stuck_out_tongue:

I used a bunch of text-based Internet stuff, long before it was even called the Internet.

I remember especially using Archie and FTP type things to help the kids find stuff for homework. They were the only kids in school who could do this sort of thing. I knew in a few years all kids would being doing this.

My first browser was the text-only Lynx. (Which I still use from time to time when setting something up over a terminal connection.) It was nice and all that. Even used it as Gopher client.

But then Mosaic hit and it was holy crap! Like a Gibson novel came to life. I knew things were going to be different. Soon I set up a web server at work, did a home page, wrote a demo game for it, etc.

The real trick was to surf the web using Mosaic from home. I could dial in to the campus modems, open a terminal, log into my office computer and do Lynx. But I (and the kids) wanted Mosaic! Enter Slirp. Before ISPs (as we know them), before home broadband, we wuz surfin’ da Net!

I was using Gopher mostly and occasionally Lynx when Mosaic came out. I think the lab I was at was using some pre-release version for a while before we got the latest. I remember watching pages load with the little ticker at the bottom saying how many bytes per second you were getting. Usually in the thousands, but sometimes dropping to the tens. We’d joke we were being routed through Western Union telegraphs.

Besides implementing http page display, Mosaic was important for showing how well open-source code sharing could actually work. Its publicity really sent that movement into overdrive. If I remember correctly, both Netscape and Internet Explorer were built on Mosaic code. They were both rebuilt from scratch later, but that original open-source base was important.

Not to mention HTML page display. :wink:

It wasn’t quite as simple as that:

This might be a definitional issue surrounding viewable source versus open source, however.

Anyway, it’s true that both Netscape/Mozilla and Internet Explorer had ties to the people and institutions which developed Mosaic.

That too. :smiley: Actually, I meant a page served via http.

Yep. The whole open source thing was rather ill-defined back then, with a huge range of licenses, etc. I guess it’s still the same, but it feels more stable now; it was all in flux back then. At least among my peers (poor college and grad students), we used any source code we could acquire, even if the licensing of reusing the code was iffy.

The idea that code sharing could be practical and produce actually useful programs really took off around then. Linux started earlier, but was very niche. Mosaic was popular and popularized the internet and code sharing. It felt like an inflection point.

I used Mosaic back in the beginning. I was using the internet prior to the introduction of the web for ftp gopher and rlogin. I got curious to see what all the fuss was about with http. I mean, it was just a brain-dead subset of SGML and wouldn’t last-it didn’t follow the rules! :slight_smile:
Shortly after I got Mosaic running (or maybe before I got Mosaic running, it was close either way) Netscape came out and I switched to that.
I did know a couple of programmers that were big users of Mosaic back when it first came out though.

My *VaxStation at work had mosaic installed. I got an early introduction to the Internet.
*A VaxStation ran VMS and operated very similar to a Vax minicomputer. Our school had 4 Vax 11/780’s clustered. We also had a few VaxStations installed in employees offices. They were similar in size to a pc.

The Vaxstation was a shared networked resource. Mine ran a Office Suite for my dept. The staff could access Word Perfect, Lotus, and a calendar/scheduler. We also ran Focus for ad hoc reporting.

Staff used VT220 terminals to access the Office Suite and Focus.


You’re missing a big example: BSD Unix was established as open source, and had been both open source and very useful indeed for over a decade by the early 1990s. BSD Unix was one of the important varieties of Unix, with the very proprietary System III/System V systems being the other, and definitely the more advanced family, and the one more popular with programmers. Here’s an old Unix hand saying outright that System V was backwards for a long time:

Speaking as someone who knows Unix and understands all that, all I can say is… stone knives and bearskins. :wink: System V was missing fundamental pieces essential to being a nice, productive platform, especially one for day-to-day use.

Anyway, BSD Unix was open source even before it “should” have been, because it was derived directly from the (angelic choir) Original Unix Sources (/angelic choir) and, when AT&T decided to enforce its copyrights post-Consent Decree, Keith Bostic had to go through the most recent BSD source distribution and remove and replace everything AT&T owned. He succeeded, but AT&T still sued, so BSD started out the 1990s under a nontrivial legal cloud. This was… part of what helped allow Linux to grow, but the fact Linux originated on PCs, and supported more PC hardware than BSDs did at the time, was a factor, too.

So open source software wasn’t completely niche, and, indeed, it could show a whole OS as one of its successes.

Mosaic was an inflection point. Netscape open-sourcing Mozilla was another. But the idea goes back further, even though some explicit practices don’t.

Note also that the original GPL license was released in 1989, and the GPLv2 in 1991. These were and are popular, easy-to-use licenses that anyone could slap onto their project to ensure it was open-source.

The huge advantage of Netscape is you could read the text of a page while the images loaded. I remember when Mosaic was released and I was using Linux as BSD was under the lawsuits at the time. In fact the first machine I ran mosaic on was a.out based Linux.

The GNU project was started in 78, and most of what people consider “linux” was was from that GNU project.

SVR4 was feature complete and SVR3.12 from At&t was fine but some other vendors were trying to charge for core features. Really SVR4 having a built in TCP/IP stack, POSIX support and X/Open was the big step.

Of course many vendors suck with the older SRV3 based offerings well into the 1990’s

And the GPL was made famous by two individual projects, both near and dear to many developers: GCC and Emacs. GCC, for being a good C compiler in an era when many C compilers were sub-par, and Emacs, for being a really good text editor in an era when many text editors were… ugh… vi.

1984, but you’re mostly right: The basic Linux userland is GNU, but the GUI isn’t, and various other pieces aren’t. Which is why I think “GNU/Linux” is misguided, but that’s a rant for another day.

You can make note here that the first widely-used TCP/IP stack was born on BSD. The standard userspace API for networking code is still called Berkeley sockets.

(Emphasis mine.)

You can say that again. :wink:

still waiting for GNU/Hurd, though.