What happened to Netscape? The original internet browser of the 90's.

Nathan Grieve

Project Hatch

What Happened to Netscape?

In the 1990’s, what was it like to search the web? Well, at that time, people only used a few browsers because they had had limits when it came to showing information back then.

The downfall of Netscape

But people began to have an interest in web browsing, and a notable browser emerged – Netscape. Your aunts and uncles will be familiar with this browser when they were in college or perhaps you were using a browser at that time.

Any books on the internet or magazines you bought had a Netscape disk. It was everywhere.

Are you still using Netscape when you’re surfing the web? Probably not. Actually, of course not. Today there are browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

Why did Netscape stop being used? What happened to Netcape?

Let’s start with discovery. ‍

Discovery and Prominence

In October 1994, Mosaic Communications Corporation gave birth to Mosaic Netscape, thanks to the success of Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen.

It was originally called Mosaic Netscape but Clark and Andreesen changed the browser’s name to Netscape Navigator. NCSA (where Andreesen worked part-time) had a similarly named Mosaic browser and they wanted to avoid conflict.

In changing the browser's name, trademark issues were avoided.

Netscape Navigator soon became the leading browser from day one. The stock offering started at $14 and shot up to $75. Netscape’s value during that time increased to $2.9 billion and they had few competitors.

People called it the “Netscape moment.”

One of the reasons why the browser became popular is Netscape’s innovations:

Netscape allowed you to see text and images as a page loaded. Other browsers loaded information over a network connection. That meant they saw a blank page as they waited for the images to load.

That’s not all.

Netscape’s appearance remained consistent when you used different computers - a feature that was not the norm. JavaScript and cookies were relatively new back then.

Additionally, Netscape introduced a web-based system that allowed users to file share.

Internet users could obtain a free download of the beta version of Netscape in November 1994 and March 1995.

Netscape then backtracked on making the browser freely available and made it free only for non-profit organizations and academic use.

All was going well for Netscape until Internet Explorer under Microsoft made its stand. Internet Explorer would prove to be a tough competitor, but Netscape didn’t give up easily.

Netscape Versions and Downfall

There are two versions of the Netscape Navigator 3.0 – the Standard and Gold Edition. Users found additional features in the Gold Edition, such as integrated email and newsreaders.

People witnessed the release of the source code for Mozilla. The Mozilla broswr could also read pages designed for Netscape. The open nature of the company and ease of use resulted in the Mozilla Organization’s rise to fame. But it’s only for a moment.

Netscape’s downfall seemed inevitable.

Mozilla boasted better progress when it comes to its browsers. And the gold edition of Netscape caused within the browser.

It wouldn’t be Mozilla that completely wiped them out.

Microsoft launched internet explorer and it became the leading browser in the industry. It completely de-throned Netscape.

Was that the end of Netscape?

Acquisition and Other Netscape Versions

In November 1998, America Online or AOL acquired Netscape Communications for $4.2 billion it led to the development of two new browsers.

These new versions had top graphical interfaces and came from the Mozilla 0.6 source code. It was a good move by AOL but not enough to regain the public’s trust to Netscape.

So, why did people turn their backs on Netscape?

Alright, Netscape was an excellent and reliable browser before Internet Explorer burst onto the scene. But Netscape’s unstable source code worried web users about Netscape’s reliability and performance. Even the release of Netscape 7.0 didn’t change public perception of Netscape.

On the 15th of July 2003, Netscape Was abandoned by Time Warner. Still, it didn’t stop the release of Netscape 7.2 (developed and released by in-house staff). After this, there are a few other releases of Netscape, such as Netscape 8.1, but people weren’t interested anymore.

Most people liked Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer had more advanced features than Netscape.

The release of Netscape 9 didn’t manage to attract user downloads anywhere close to the amounts of the glory days of Netscape. So, AOL decided to discontinue browser development.

Prior to the decision, there was a major update on Netscape 9. AOL added a feature to help users migrate to other browsers - a classy move from the company.

Netscape Today

If you thought Netscape was gone completely, think again. AOL still owns the Netscape brand. The Netscape ISP offers affordable internet access that began in January 2004. Users got high internet speeds with web page compression. But there were drawbacks: the graphical quality was low.

Both Netscape and AOL own the DMOZ which acts as a web link directory run by volunteer groups.

So, what happened to Netscape?

Netscape is gone and forgotten for many, but let’s face it, during the nineties it was one of the most popular browsers for Internet users. Netscape users during those days still remember the joys of being able to access the early internet.

Despite the drawback of its past versions, the browser continues to live on in a different forms Many internet users might not see the brilliance of Netscape, but it left a legacy that influenced other companies to develop new browsers.

We owe thanks to Netscape for pioneering the browsers we have today.

Thank You To Our Sponsor

Designed specifically for ecommerce businesses, Omnisend makes it easy to automate and improve your email marketing without the hassle of complicated set-ups and integrations.


And that’s just the beginning - you can also drive higher conversions by seamlessly layering email with other channels like SMS, Facebook Messenger and more - all from one, easy-to-use platform, trusted by 50K+ merchants worldwide. Start your 14-day free trial today, no CC required.