Andreesen and Bina - inventors of NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser
Eric Bina (left) and Marc Andreessen (right)

4 Facts About NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser

  1. The NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser was not the first web browser available. However it was the first truly user friendly browser and gained a lot of popularity in a short period of time.
  2. While the exact numbers are not known, the NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser had been downloaded by tens of thousands of users within the first few weeks of being released.
  3. The NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser was the first browser to allow users to view images directly in the browser session, where other browsers at the time required users to download images as separate files.
  4. Despite the browser’s popularity, it only lasted for about four years before being replaced by other browsers.
NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser beta version
The UI for Mosaic on Windows.

What Is NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser: Explained

The very first web browser was the WorldWideWeb of Berners-Lee, but the first popularized web browser was the NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser. Previous web browsers were not user friendly; they lacked an intuitive and inviting way to allow people to navigate the then-new World Wide Web.In 1992 two developers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois (Marc Andreessen and Eric Brina) began working on a graphical, user friendly web browser they would later call “Mosaic”. The most notable features this computer program had that other browsers lacked were the ability to view pictures directly on the page, its ease of navigation, and the way this browser handled hyperlinks. Previous browsers only showed pictures as separate files available for download that were linked to the page, so no pictures were directly visible from any main web page. Other browsers also lacked a smooth graphical interface to help navigate through the page, to include scrolling and the now-standard “back”, “forward”, and “refresh” buttons. Finally, the Mosaic browser was the first browser to incorporate clickable hyperlinks. Previous browsers gave reference numbers so users could manually type in the new URL, whereas this new browser allowed users to simply click the link directly to get to the desired page.

Marc Andreessen and Eric Brina had developed a web browser people could easily learn and use and by naming it Mosaic they made it sound less technically-intimidating than other browsers. However within just a few years of releasing their computer program the Mosaic World Wide Web browser was replaced by the Netscape browser, but not before receiving multiple technology awards and titles such as InfoWorld Magazine’s 1993 Product of the Year.

NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser
GUI for the NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser.

The Difference Between NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser And Mozilla Firefox

Although several advancements have been made in Internet protocols and browser technology, the basic functions of the Mosaic browser and Mozilla Firefox are more similar than they are different. On the surface both are computer programs that a user must download and install, then those programs will work with Internet protocols to interact with static and dynamic data. Obviously the Mosaic browser doesn’t support as many features and will not be able to work with as many Internet protocols as newer browsers, but that’s to be expected from software whose last release was in 1997.

Both browsers can move backwards and forwards to previous pages in a session’s history, as well as refresh, and set a homepage. Both browsers also support hyperlinks and in-session pictures being viewed right on the page. Both browsers are also not tied to one specific operating system, either, and can be used on a multitude of different computers.

NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser
NCSA Mosaic for Mac

NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser: End Of Development

The release of the Netscape Browser is credited with being the downfall of the Mosaic browser. Shortly after Netscape’s release Mosaic’s popularity was not enough to overcome the novelty of newer options with better graphical interfaces and more capabilities. By the end of 1997 the Mosaic browser had lost most of its user base as newer browsers were released. For this reason the final release of Mosaic browser was rolled out in 1997. The software is still available for download today, though it’s mostly for the novelty experience of using an older browser as much of today’s Internet relies on advanced protocols not suitable for Mosaic.

NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser
More images of the NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser UI.

NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser: The Complete History FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can you still use Mosaic web browser?

Technically Mosaic browser can still be downloaded and used, however it may not support much of today’s Internet as protocols and website features have become more advanced than Mosaic’s last upgrade in 1997.

Who built Mosaic browser?

Marc Andreessen and Eric Brina at the NCSA in the University of Illinois began developing the Mosaic browser in 1991, releasing the first official Mosaic browser in 1993.

Was Mosaic the first browser?

Mosaic was not the first browser or even the first graphical browser, but it was the most user friendly browser at the time of its release.

How did Mosaic revolutionize web browsing?

The Mosaic browser was the first browser to introduce two features new to the browser world: allowing for pictures to be viewed directly on the page instead of needing to be downloaded and viewed separately, and using hyperlinks that could take a user directly to the new page instead of making a user manually type the address to the new page.

When was Mosaic browser created?

The Mosaic browser was first developed in 1991, and first officially released to the public in 1993.

Where was Mosaic developed?

The Mosaic browser was developed in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois.

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