In a historic move, AOL has announced the end of the line for Netscape. Support for the browser will cease from the 1st of Feb, 2008.

Netscape began in beta form in 1994 under the name of Mosaic. It's name changed to Mosaic Netscape but a legal challenge from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications meant a name change to Netscape Navigator.

The browser had an easy to use graphical interface which made it a killer app. Version 2 arrived complete with Netscape Mail adding extra functionality. Netscape soon rose in prominence to become the browser of choice.

It didn't take too long for Microsoft to pay attention and start work on their own browser. It released Internet Explorer v1.0 in August 1995. Early versions were primitive but it did not take too long for Microsoft to make up some lost ground. The browser wars took off in earnest when Microsoft embedded Explorer into its operating system. This move sparked some furious legal action from its competitors.

At once stage, Netscape had 85% of the browser market. However the clout of behemoth Microsoft soon put paid to that. By late 2002, Internet Explorer had around 90% of the market.

It appeared that the browser wars were over. Netscape still had one more trick up its sleeve that would shake things up. In March 1998, Netscape released the code for Netscape Navigator as open source. This action spawned the Mozilla project.

Netscapes legacy is enormous. It kick started the world wide web for us mere mortals. It also made Microsoft sit up and take notice of the internet. Not only that, it helped bring Open Source into the mainstream.