NCSA Mosaic, or simply Mosaic, is the web browser that popularized the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web and the Internet. It was also a client for earlier
internet protocols such as
File Transfer Protocol, Network News
Transfer Protocol, and Gopher. The browser was named for its support
of multiple internet protocols. Its intuitive interface,
Microsoft Windows port and simple installation all
contributed to its popularity within the web, as well as on Microsoft
operating systems. Mosaic was also the first browser to display
images inline with text instead of displaying images in a separate
window. While often described as the first graphical web browser,
Mosaic was preceded by WorldWideWeb, the lesser-known Erwise and
Mosaic was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
beginning in late 1992. NCSA released the browser in 1993, and
officially discontinued development and support on January 7, 1997.
However, it can still be downloaded from NCSA.
Netscape Navigator was later developed by
Netscape (originally known
as Mosaic Communications Corporation), which employed many of the
original Mosaic authors; however, it intentionally shared no code with
Netscape Navigator's code descendant is Mozilla Firefox.
Starting in 1995 Mosaic lost market share to
Netscape Navigator, and
by 1997 only had a tiny fraction of users left, by which time the
project was discontinued.
Microsoft licensed Mosaic to create Internet
Explorer in 1995.
3 Immediate effect
4 Importance of Mosaic
5 End of Mosaic
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Mosaic 1.0 running under System 7.1, displaying the Mosaic
Communications Corporation (later Netscape) website.
After trying ViolaWWW, David Thompson demonstrated it to the NCSA
software design group; Marc Andreessen. Andreessen and Eric Bina
originally designed and programmed NCSA Mosaic for Unix's X Window
System called xmosaic. Then, in December 1991, the Gore
Bill created and introduced by then Senator and future Vice President
Al Gore was passed, which provided the funding for the Mosaic project.
Development began in December 1992.
Marc Andreessen announced the
project on Jan 23, 1993. The first alpha release (numbered 0.1a)
was published in June 1993, and the first beta release (numbered 0.6b)
followed quickly thereafter in September 1993. Version 1.0 for
Microsoft Windows was released on November 11, 1993. NCSA
Unix (X-Windows) version 2.0 was released on November 10,
1993. A port of Mosaic to the
Commodore Amiga was available by
October 1993. Ports to
Microsoft Windows and
Macintosh had already
been released in September. From 1994 to 1997, the National
Science Foundation supported the further development of Mosaic.
Marc Andreessen, the leader of the team that developed Mosaic, left
NCSA and, with James H. Clark, one of the founders of Silicon
Graphics, Inc. (SGI), and four other former students and staff of the
University of Illinois, started Mosaic Communications Corporation.
Mosaic Communications eventually became
1994 saw the first commercial product to incorporate Mosaic: SCO
Global Access, a modified version of its Open Desktop version of Unix
that served as an
Spyglass, Inc. licensed the technology and trademarks from NCSA for
producing their own web browser but never used any of the NCSA Mosaic
Microsoft licensed Spyglass Mosaic in 1995 for US$2
million, modified it, and renamed it
Internet Explorer. After a
later auditing dispute,
Microsoft paid Spyglass $8 million.
The 1995 user guide The
HTML Sourcebook: The Complete Guide to HTML,
specifically states, in a section called Coming Attractions, that
Internet Explorer "will be based on the Mosaic program".:331
Internet Explorer before version 7 stated "Based on NCSA
Mosaic" in the About box.
Internet Explorer 7 was audited by
Microsoft to ensure that it contained no Mosaic code,
and thus no longer credits Spyglass or Mosaic.
The licensing terms for NCSA Mosaic were generous for a proprietary
software program. In general, non-commercial use was free of charge
for all versions (with certain limitations). Additionally, the X
Unix version publicly provided source code (source code
for the other versions was available after agreements were signed).
Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, however, Mosaic was never
released as open source software during its brief reign as a major
browser; there were always constraints on permissible uses without
As of 1993[update], license holders included these:
Fujitsu Limited (Product: Infomosaic, a Japanese version of Mosaic.
Price: Yen5,000 (approx US$50)
Infoseek Corporation (Product: No commercial Mosaic. May use Mosaic as
part of a commercial database effort)
Quadralay Corporation (Consumer version of Mosaic. Also using Mosaic
in its online help and information product, GWHIS. Price: US$249)
Quarterdeck Office Systems
Quarterdeck Office Systems Inc.
Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (Product: Incorporating Mosaic into "SCO
Global Access," a communications package for
Unix machines that works
with SCO's Open Server. Runs a graphical e-mail service and accesses
SPRY Inc. (Products: A communication suite: Air Mail, Air News, Air
Mosaic, etc. Also producing
Internet In a Box with O'Reilly &
Associates. Price: US$149–$399 for Air Series.)
Spyglass, Inc. (Product: Relicensing to other vendors. Signed deal
with Digital Equipment Corp., which would ship Mosaic with all its
Other browsers existed during this period, notably Erwise, ViolaWWW,
MidasWWW and tkWWW. These browsers, however, did not have the same
effect as Mosaic on public use of the Internet.
In the October 1994 issue of Wired Magazine, Gary Wolfe notes in the
article titled "The (Second Phase of the) Revolution Has Begun: Don't
look now, but Prodigy, AOL, and
CompuServe are all suddenly obsolete -
and Mosaic is well on its way to becoming the world's standard
When it comes to smashing a paradigm, pleasure is not the most
important thing. It is the only thing. If this sounds wrong, consider
Mosaic. Mosaic is the celebrated graphical "browser" that allows users
to travel through the world of electronic information using a
point-and-click interface. Mosaic's charming appearance encourages
users to load their own documents onto the Net, including color
photos, sound bites, video clips, and hypertext "links" to other
documents. By following the links - click, and the linked document
appears - you can travel through the online world along paths of whim
and intuition. Mosaic is not the most direct way to find online
information. Nor is it the most powerful. It is merely the most
pleasurable way, and in the 18 months since it was released, Mosaic
has incited a rush of excitement and commercial energy unprecedented
in the history of the Net.
Importance of Mosaic
Mosaic was the web browser that led to the
Internet boom of the 1990s.
Robert Reid underscores this importance stating, "while still an
undergraduate, Marc wrote the Mosaic software ... that made the
web popularly relevant and touched off the revolution".:xlii Reid
notes that Andreessen's team hoped:
... to rectify many of the shortcomings of the very primitive
prototypes then floating around the Internet. Most significantly,
their work transformed the appeal of the Web from niche uses in the
technical area to mass-market appeal. In particular, these University
of Illinois students made two key changes to the Web browser, which
hyper-boosted its appeal: they added graphics to what was otherwise
boring text-based software, and, most importantly, they ported the
software from so-called
Unix computers that are popular only in
technical and academic circles, to the [Microsoft] Windows operating
system, which is used on more than 80 percent of the computers in the
world, especially personal and commercial computers.:xxv
Mosaic is not the first web browser for
Microsoft Windows; this is
Thomas R. Bruce's little-known Cello. The
Unix version of Mosaic was
already famous before the
Microsoft Windows and Mac versions were
released. Other than displaying images embedded in the text rather
than in a separate window, Mosaic's original feature set is not
greater than of the browsers on which it was modeled, such as
ViolaWWW. But Mosaic was the first browser written and supported by
a team of full-time programmers, was reliable and easy enough for
novices to install, and the inline graphics reportedly proved
immensely appealing. Mosaic is said to have made the Web accessible to
the ordinary person for the first time and already had 53% market
share in 1995.
Reid also refers to Matthew K. Gray's website,
Growth and Usage of the Web and the Internet, which indicates a
dramatic leap in web use around the time of Mosaic's
In addition, David Hudson concurs with Reid, noting that:
Marc Andreessen's realization of Mosaic, based on the work of
Berners-Lee and the hypertext theorists before him, is generally
recognized as the beginning of the web as it is now known. Mosaic, the
first web browser to win over the Net masses, was released in 1993 and
made freely accessible to the public. The adjective phenomenal, so
often overused in this industry, is genuinely applicable to the...
'explosion' in the growth of the web after Mosaic appeared on the
scene. Starting with next to nothing, the rates of the web growth
(quoted in the press) hovering around tens of thousands of percent
over ridiculously short periods of time were no real surprise.:42
Ultimately, web browsers such as Mosaic became the killer applications
of the 1990s. Web browsers were the first to bring a graphical
interface to search tools the Internet's burgeoning wealth of
distributed information services. A mid-1994 guide lists Mosaic
alongside the traditional, text-oriented information search tools of
the time, Archie and Veronica, Gopher, and WAIS but Mosaic quickly
subsumed and displaced them all. Joseph Hardin, the director of the
NCSA group within which Mosaic was developed, said downloads were up
to 50,000 a month in mid-1994.
In November 1992, there were twenty-six websites in the world and
each one attracted attention. In its release year of 1993, Mosaic had
a What's New page, and about one new link was being added per day.
This was a time when access to the
Internet was expanding rapidly
outside its previous domain of academia and large industrial research
institutions. Yet it was the availability of Mosaic and Mosaic-derived
graphical browsers themselves that drove the explosive growth of the
Web to over 10,000 sites by Aug 1995 and millions by 1998.
Metcalfe expressed the pivotal role of Mosaic this way:
In the Web's first generation,
Tim Berners-Lee launched the Uniform
Resource Locator (URL),
Hypertext Transfer Protocol
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and HTML
standards with prototype Unix-based servers and browsers. A few people
noticed that the Web might be better than Gopher.
In the second generation,
Marc Andreessen and
Eric Bina developed NCSA
Mosaic at the University of Illinois. Several million then suddenly
noticed that the Web might be better than sex.
In the third generation, Andreessen and Bina left NCSA to found
— —Bob Metcalfe
End of Mosaic
Mosaic's popularity as a separate browser began to lessen upon the
release of Andreessen's
Netscape Navigator in 1994. This was noted at
the time in The
HTML Sourcebook: The Complete Guide to HTML: "Netscape
Communications has designed an all-new WWW browser Netscape, that has
significant enhancements over the original Mosaic program.":332
By 1998 its user base had almost completely evaporated, being replaced
by other web browsers. After NCSA stopped work on Mosaic, development
of the NCSA Mosaic for the
X Window System
X Window System source code was continued
by several independent groups. These independent development efforts
include mMosaic (multicast Mosaic) which ceased development in
early 2004, and Mosaic-CK and VMS Mosaic.
VMS Mosaic, a version specifically targeting
OpenVMS operating system,
was one of the longest-lived efforts to maintain Mosaic. Using the VMS
support already built-in in original version (Bjorn S. Nilsson ported
Mosaic 1.2 to VMS in the summer of 1993), developers incorporated
a substantial part of the
HTML engine from mMosaic, another defunct
flavor of the browser. the last (4.2) release[update], VMS Mosaic
HTML 4.0, OpenSSL, cookies, and various image formats
including GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, TGA, TIFF and
JPEG 2000 image
formats. The browser works on VAX, Alpha, and Itanium
Another long-lived version of Mosaic – Mosaic-CK, developed by
Cameron Kaiser – saw its last release (version 2.7ck9) on July 11,
2010; a maintenance release with minor compatibility fixes (version
2.7ck10) was released on 9 January 2015, followed by another one
(2.7ck11) in October 2015. The stated goal of the project is "Lynx
with graphics" and runs on Mac OS X, Power MachTen, Linux and other
compatible Unix-like OSs.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November
Mosaic is based on the libwww library and thus supported a
wide variety of
Internet protocols included in the library: Archie,
FTP, gopher, HTTP, NNTP, telnet, WAIS.
Comparison of web browsers
History of the World Wide Web
Kevin Hughes (
List of web browsers
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^ "xmosaic 1.2 source code". NCSA. 1994-06-29. Retrieved
Douglas Crockford (Sep 10, 2011). Crockford on
1: The Early Years. YouTube. Event occurs at 1:35:50.
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^ "Exhibits -
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^ "NCSA X Mosaic 0.5 released". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
^ "The History of NCSA Mosaic". NCSA.
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^ Mace, Scott (7 March 1994). "SCO brings
Internet access to PCs".
InfoWorld. p. 47.
^ Sink, Eric (2003-05-15). "Memoirs From the Browser Wars". Eric
Sink's Weblog. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
^ a b Thurrott, Paul (22 January 1997). "
Microsoft and Spyglass kiss
and make up". Archived from the original on 19 September 2012.
Retrieved 9 February 2011.
^ Elstrom, Peter (22 January 1997). "MICROSOFT'S $8 MILLION GOODBYE TO
SPYGLASS". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
^ a b Graham, Ian S. (1995). The
HTML Sourcebook: The Complete Guide
HTML (First ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
^ a b Wolfe, Gary (October 1994). "The (Second Phase of the)
Revolution Has Begun". Wired Magazine. 2: 10. Retrieved January 7,
^ "A Little
History of the World Wide Web
History of the World Wide Web From 1960s to 1995". CERN.
2001-05-05. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
^ a b c Reid, Robert H. (1997). Architects of the Web: 1000 Days That
Built the Future of Business. John Wiley and Sons.
^ Cockburn, Andy; Jones, Steve (6 December 2000). "Which Way Now?
Analysing and Easing Inadequacies in WWW Navigation".
CiteSeerX 10.1.1.25.8504 .
^ Hudson, David (1997). Rewired: A Brief and Opinionated Net History.
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^ Lucey, Sean (9 May 1994). "
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^ Levitt, Jason (9 May 1994). "A Matter of Attribution: Can't Forget
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^ Roads and Crossroads of
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^ Nilsson, Bjorn (1993). "README.VMS". National Center for
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^ NCSA and
VMS Mosaic Version Information
^ "OpenVMS.org -
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^ a b "Official Mosaic-CK homepage".
^ Kahan, José (7 June 2002). "Change History of libwww". World Wide
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^ Kahan, José (5 August 1999). "Why Libwww?". Retrieved 15 June
Tikka, Juha-Pekka (March 3, 2009). "The Greatest
Internet Pioneers You
Never Heard Of: The Story of
Erwise and Four Finns Who Showed the Way
to the Web Browser". Xconomy.
Welcome to Mosaic Communications Corporation!
NCSA Mosaic 1.0 home page at Déjà Vu (dejavu.org)
Beyond the Web: Excavating the Real World Via Mosaic - early
application of Mosaic
NCSA Mosaic for modern Linux systems at GitHub
NCSA Mosaic Archive
In The Beginning... - A history of the development effort for the
Microsoft Windows version.
Mosaic archive on evolt.org
VMS Mosaic home page at the
Wayback Machine (archived November 17,
Mosaic-CK home page
A protocol for document search and retrieval on the Internet
Line Mode Browser
Internet Explorer for Mac
Mozilla Application Suite
Wide area information server (WAIS)
SDF Public Access
Mark P. McCahill
Timeline of web browsers
Line Mode Browser
Internet in a Box
eWorld Web Browser
Internet Explorer 1
Internet Explorer 2
Netscape Navigator 2
Internet Explorer 3
Netscape Navigator 3
Internet Explorer 4
Mozilla Application Suite
Internet Explorer 5
Internet Explorer 6
Avant Browser 7
Avant Browser 9
Avant Browser 11
Internet Explorer 7
Netscape Navigator 9
Avant Browser 11.7
Google Chrome 2–3
Internet Explorer 8
Google Chrome 4–8
Google Chrome 9–16
Internet Explorer 9
Google Chrome 17–23
Internet Explorer 10
Google Chrome 24–31
Internet Explorer 11
Google Chrome 32–39
Google Chrome 40–47
Microsoft Edge 20, 25
Google Chrome 48–55
Microsoft Edge 38
Google Chrome 56–63
Microsoft Edge 40–41
3D Markup Language for Web
File Transfer Protocol
Virtual Reality Markup Language
Internet User's Guide and Catalog
World Wide Web
Universal Edit Button
Cascading Style Sheets
World Wide Web
Origyn Web Browser
Line Mode Browser
IBM Home Page Reader
Qihoo 360 Secure Browser
Chrome for Android
Firefox Focus for Android
Firefox for Android
Chrome for iOS
Firefox for iOS
Firefox Focus for iOS
Nokia Browser for Symbian
Internet Explorer Mobile
Television and video game console
Nintendo DS & DSi Browser
Software no longer in development shown in italics