Microsoft has rung the death knell for Internet Explorer — and it’s likely that few of us will mourn. IE has been sort of a joke for years, but there was a time when it was mighty. How far back into browser history do you go? Tell us what you remember.
Certainly there are reasons that we devoted online denizens still have to interact with IE. If you’re an engineer or designer — or any kind of creator whose work is web-based — you’ve had to build or examine an IE render. Numbers-wise, Internet Explorer still has a majority slice of the browser-user pie. In circles that care about their browsing experience, however, mentioning “IE” will induce an auto-cringe, summoning to mind the image above and sending you on a bad acid flashback into browser toolbar hell.
Netscape Navigator was the first browser that I ever loved, and I used its satellite Composer to build web pages that later died horribly in the great GeoCities Purge of ’09. Popular web host Geocities had its own in-browser drag-and-drop page builder (it was awful), but discovering Netscape’s Composer was a breath of fresh air, a white screen full of possibilities and buttons that created links and tables like magic.
Netscape Navigator’s press release circa 1994 shows how far we’ve come: “Netscape is the first Internet tool that lets the average user with a 14.4 kb modem work with the Internet interactively.” Boy did it ever let us load sparkly 3D banners at those mind-bogglingly sluggish kilobit-per-second rates. Navigator itself evolved out of Marc Andreessen’s original Mosaic browser — and of course humanity was online well before we started developing spyware toolbars. In the decades between Mosaic and the newly-announced Microsoft Spartan, there’ve been a lot of browsers to work with.
Did you come to internet maturity in the time before ad-bloated monstrosities that shall remain nameless, or are incognito windows and snazzy extensions all you’ve ever known? Bonus question: if you can remember, what was the first website you ever visited?