R.I.P. : Netscape goes to The Tech Great Beyond

Netscape is officially a dead end as a technology platform, as it will no longer be supported. (Picture above is from blog.wired.com.) I came into knowledge of the internet via Netscape and Mosaic browsers. (Picture below left is from browsersheritage.com.)
In 1993, while at Purdue University, I spent an inordinate amount of time in Grissom Hall doing web searches on Mosaic, an NCSA platform, while learning little or no code, but downloading alot of worthless information. “Back in the day”, my account limit on this information to store on the local university server was like 10-20MB. I, personally, didn’t own a 386 or 486 Intel at 25-75 MHZ, nor could I get a baude rate above 9600 KB/sec. But it was fun, nonetheless.

I chatted often with a college girl, Jennifer Hollingsworth, who went to Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania in 1995 while in that same Grissom computer lab. We’d kill hours of time, talking about school (more her schooling than mine), discussing politics (which I knew nothing of) or relationships (ours, friends or families.) Probably for 3+ months, we racked up close to 250 hours of chat room time, all for free. The internet was good.
(Though this relationship ended over whether I would visit her in Pennsylvania – I would have, but I was broke – and the fact she pulled a 2.0 in that semester, honors student, mind you, thus pissing her family off to undoubtedly no end. She cut me off before I could either apologize appropriately or fix what I fucked up…pardon the language.)

While I was screwing the pooch of on-line relationships, Netscape took over from Mosaic as the browser software of choice, in my opinion, during the mid-to-late 1990’s. But that was soon to be a thing of the past as Internet Explorer took over dominance, thanks to good ole Microsoft.

As blog.wired.com suggests:

Netscape released its browser’s source code and created the Mozilla project in
1998. AOL then acquired Netscape in 1999. Recognizing that
Netscape got some things right and others wrong, Blake Ross and some of his
developer friends branched off to create Firefox, which for all
practical purposes is the current incarnation of Netscape. Many believe the original Netscape died with the AOL purchase.
Since then, the web
browser scene has been rife with change — Mozilla gave way to the leaner, faster
Firefox and Apple developed its own Safari browser — and Netscape’s browser has
been rendered largely irrelevant. Indeed, as AOL’s director of the Netscape brand Tom Drapeau points out, his team has failed to put a dent in IE’s dominance, and the latest release of the Netscape browser is simply “a skinned version of Firefox with a few extensions.”

I didn’t give way to Internet Explorerusing Netscape until probably 2000-1 – but I was different anyways: I didn’t own my very own computer until 2001. (My aunt bought one in 1999, but never used it, never knew how, so, I generally kept it updated with software or moved my files via the old 1.3 MB disks…yikes!)

I would also go to Kinko’s to do my interneting then. (I was making good money, then, but not thinking very smart – except that a Kinko’s girl would usually let me work over Kinko’s for nearly no charge.) She was a very nice person – but unavailable, in that sense.

AOL hadn’t been a dial-up of choice until I got that 1st computer in January 2001. (I figured those handy drink coasters (those disks) had to have something on them, so, why not?) After only 3 months, I wasn’t interested in AOL anymore. I did Compuserve for awhile (after a stint in the Westville Hilton) using, “AOLSUCKS” as my password.

AOL /Time Warner deal (picture from webcomicbattle.com) has turned into the biggest joke. The relevancy of both corporations has diminished to the point that I really don’t know what either one (as if they are seperate) is doing.. this after being one of the largest mergers in American history. (And, at the time, the dot.com bubble had not burst.)

Meanwhile, Netscape, the initiator of this story has gone to moth balls. 14 years it took to go from new kid, to industry leader, to struggling competitor to bad platform, to defunct/obsolete program.

This mirrors often how I feel: in 1993, life was looking better. I was young, impressionable, quick to act, and had ideas for the future. After graduation in 1996, my path seemed set to go – I could make some hey, drive towards new heights, maybe innovate something. By 2001, the wheels were tettering on a precipice of legal malaise. And, in 2008, I feel quite defunct and outdated.

We might all have to die – figuratively – a 1,000 deaths before we get it right. As browsers now are nothing more than 1st generation access points to others in the world. As all the applications on Iphones, blackberries and Steve Jobs-only-knows-what-else come to fruition, we see things get replaced, get outdated or wither away in this tech world. (Ms. Pacman, Nintendo box, Atari 2600 for pictured examples.)

To go beyond, as we approach 2012, the Mayan’s end of celestial time, we might see the future as not so bright.

The intrusions into people’s lives are becoming more pronounced, more impassioned by a less-than-enlighted society that hasn’t understood technology from the git go. The governments learn from people they wouldn’t hire 25 years ago – even though these nerds could hack their mainframes, and essentially disrupt commerce, the most important aspect of technology today, money flow, in the time it took most of the nerd herd to masturbate over some floozy they can’t get nanoseconds from. This manipulatory fact has hastened the demise of individual freedoms, just ask your government, if you can.

The death of one technology or platform only gives rise to another with faster transistors, more complex algorithms and more uses by us, the consumer, but less understanding, by us, the controlled. The entertainment value alone made it that easy; seeing what the TV has done, the computer became like an uber cocaine to people without personal connections. Governments caught on, and we serve them, now, more than ever.

Hopefully, this tour down my memory lane, through the technology life cycle will remind you that you are the most advanced system ever developed – so don’t be a slave to a box constructed by others, like you. Be your own system – and update, revamp and design for the future. Or you’ll likely be another defunct person walking around.


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  • carol webb  On March 3, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I didn’t know Netscape had gone.

    That saddens me, as I learned all about web page writing on this platform. It was trendy then:)

  • Cooper  On March 4, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I never use it and honestly didn’t even know it was in some how related to aol. ;(

  • JayPeeFreely  On March 11, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Well – things change so much in tech, it is sometimes hard to keep up. I know that for certain.

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