Mozilla steps in it.

Firefox has been a browser that I use going back to the time it replaced Netscape.

Netscape stock traded from 1995 until 1999 when it was acquired by AOL in a pooling-of-interests transaction ultimately worth US$10 billion. Shortly before its acquisition by AOL, Netscape released the source code for its browser and created the Mozilla Organization to coordinate future development of its product. The Mozilla Organization rewrote the entire browser’s source code based on the Gecko rendering engine; all future Netscape releases were based on this rewritten code. The Gecko engine would later be used to power the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser.

The Netscape browser was the original interface for the World Wide Web. It all began with Mosaic, which was a project of Marc Anfdreessen when he was a grad student at the U of Illinois.

“In the Web’s first generation, Tim Berners-Lee (of CERN) launched the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and HTML standards with prototype Unix-based servers and browsers. A few people noticed that the Web might be better than Gopher.

In the second generation, Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina developed NCSA Mosaic at the University of Illinois. Several million then suddenly noticed that the Web might be better than sex.

In the third generation, Andreessen and Bina left NCSA to found Netscape…”

It was originally founded under the name Mosaic Communications Corporation on April 4, 1994, the brainchild of Jim Clark who had recruited Marc Andreessen as co-founder and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as investors. Clark recruited other early team members from SGI and NCSA Mosaic, including Rosanne Siino who became Vice President of Communications. Jim Barksdale came on board as CEO in January 1995.

The name change was a result of action by the University.

The University of Illinois was unhappy with the company’s use of the Mosaic name, so Mosaic Communications changed its name to Netscape Communications, and its flagship Web browser was the Netscape Navigator.

Then came Microsoft which saw Netscape as a threat, which it was.

Microsoft released version 1.0 of Internet Explorer as a part of the Windows 95 Plus Pack add-on. According to former Spyglass developer Eric Sink, Internet Explorer was based not on NCSA Mosaic as commonly believed, but on a version of Mosaic developed at Spyglass (which itself was based upon NCSA Mosaic). Microsoft quickly released several successive versions of Internet Explorer, bundling them with Windows, never charging for them, financing their development and marketing with revenues from other areas of the company. This period of time became known as the browser wars

The free browser from Microsoft was able to win “the browser wars” even though it was an inferior product.

Andreessen has become a famous investor and “angel” of Silicone Valley startups. He has also been involved in a bit of politics.

Andreessen endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential elections. In 2012, however, Andreessen switched his allegiance to the Republican candidate Mitt Romney


Now, we come to Javascript.

JavaScript (JS) is a dynamic computer programming language. It is most commonly used as part of web browsers, whose implementations allow client-side scripts to interact with the user, control the browser, communicate asynchronously, and alter the document content that is displayed. It is also being used in server-side programming, game development and the creation of desktop and mobile applications.

In other words, it is a big deal. Where did it come from ? It’s not Java, another language used by Sun Microsystems.

JavaScript is a prototype-based scripting language with dynamic typing and has first-class functions. Its syntax was influenced by C. JavaScript copies many names and naming conventions from Java, but the two languages are otherwise unrelated and have very different semantics.

How did it begin ?

JavaScript was originally developed by Brendan Eich. While battling with Microsoft over the Web, Netscape considered their client-server offering a distributed OS, running a portable version of Sun Microsystems’ Java. Because Java was a competitor of C++ and aimed at professional programmers, Netscape also wanted a lightweight interpreted language that would complement Java by appealing to nonprofessional programmers, like Microsoft’s Visual Basic.

Although it was developed under the name Mocha, the language was officially called LiveScript when it first shipped in beta releases of Netscape Navigator 2.0 in September 1995, but it was renamed JavaScript when it was deployed in the Netscape browser version 2.0B3.

So Brendan Eich was there at the beginning of Javascript and Netscape. I remember the time. I was at Dartmouth in 1994-95 and was using the old text searching tools, Archie, the first search engine, and Veronica , both named after cartoon characters.

The archie service began as a project for students and volunteer staff at the McGill University School of Computer Science in 1987, when Deutsch, Emtage, and Heelan were asked to connect the School of Computer Science to the Internet. The earliest versions of archie, written by Alan Emtage, simply contacted a list of FTP archives on a regular basis (contacting each roughly once a month, so as not to waste too much resources of the remote servers) and requested a listing. These listings were stored in local files to be searched using the Unix grep command.

Veronica was a search engine system for the Gopher protocol, developed in 1992 by Steven Foster and Fred Barrie at the University of Nevada, Reno.

During its existence, Veronica was a constantly updated database of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of Gopher servers. The Veronica database could be searched from most major Gopher menus.

Archie and Veronica were characters in the Archie Comics

Archie’s first appearance in Pep Comics #22 on December 22, 1941, was drawn by Montana and written by Vic Bloom. With the creation of Archie, publisher Goldwater hoped to appeal to fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney. Archie Comics is also the title of the company’s longest-running publication, the first issue appearing with a cover date of Winter 1942. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie.

Jughead was another character and there is even a search engine named “Jughead.”

I used these search engines when the internet was all text and databases were searchable to download text.

The World Wide Web is a system of protocols for internet usage that goes far beyond text documents.

In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, an independent contractor at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland, built ENQUIRE, as a personal database of people and software models, but also as a way to play with hypertext; each new page of information in ENQUIRE had to be linked to an existing page.

The pages did not have to be just text, they could be images, as well. The images were not widely used until Mosaic.

He found an enthusiastic collaborator in Robert Cailliau, who rewrote the proposal (published on November 12, 1990) and sought resources within CERN. Berners-Lee and Cailliau pitched their ideas to the European Conference on Hypertext Technology in September 1990, but found no vendors who could appreciate their vision of marrying hypertext with the Internet.

The first web pages were designed and written at CERN in Europe.

The first web page may be lost, but Paul Jones of UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina revealed in May 2013 that he has a copy of a page sent to him in 1991 by Berners-Lee which is the oldest known web page. Jones stored the plain-text page, with hyperlinks, on a floppy disk and on his NeXT computer

Again, these pages were text only.

In keeping with its birth at CERN, early adopters of the World Wide Web were primarily university-based scientific departments or physics laboratories such as Fermilab and SLAC. By January 1993 there were fifty Web servers across the world; by October 1993 there were over five hundred.[10]

Early websites intermingled links for both the HTTP web protocol and the then-popular Gopher protocol, which provided access to content through hypertext menus presented as a file system rather than through HTML files. Early Web users would navigate either by bookmarking popular directory pages, such as Berners-Lee’s first site at, or by consulting updated lists such as the NCSA “What’s New” page. Some sites were also indexed by WAIS, enabling users to submit full-text searches similar to the capability later provided by search engines.

This is where Archie and Veronica came in to play.

Then came “The turning point for the World Wide Web was the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, a graphical browser developed by a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), led by Marc Andreessen.”

The next big development was Javascript, which made pages interactive, and that brings us to Brendan Eich who wrote Javascript and made Netscape work.

Media coverage of Mozilla and its Firefox Web browser over the past week has largely focused on new CEO Brendan Eich and his 2008 opposition to gay marriage (in the form of a $1,000 donation to California’s Prop 8 campaign). Yesterday, Eich resigned from Mozilla, and Mozilla has had plenty of support for letting Eich leave.

Eich, who has never been accused of anti-gay bias in his career, was outed as a donor of $1000 to Proposition 8 in California, a ballot measure that defined marriage as
“one man and one women.” It was passed by 52% of the vote, then tossed out by a gay judge who ruled it unconstitutional, then retired and married his gay lover. Eich’s donation was made at a time that President Barack Obaama was proclaiming the same position on gay marriage as the ballot initiative.

Now Mozilla has forced out one of its founders and the man responsible for a large part of its functionality. What now ?

Slate seems comfortable with the decision.

But this is different. Opposing gay marriage in America today is not akin to opposing tax hikes or even the war in Afghanistan. It’s more akin to opposing interracial marriage: It bespeaks a conviction that some people do not deserve the same basic rights as others. An organization like Mozilla might tolerate that in an underling, and it might even tolerate it in a CTO. But in a CEO—the ultimate decision-maker and public face of an organization—it sends an awful message. That’s doubly so for an organization devoted to openness and freedom on the Web—not to mention one with numerous gay employees.

Slate doesn’t have to create products that compete in the world, even in places where gay marriage is not the obsession it is in the US these days. Oh, and Slate Magazine is owned by Graham Holdings (formerly The Washington Post Company). Another successful leftist organization.

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