NCSA MOSAIC, or simply MOSAIC, is a discontinued early web browser .
It has been credited with popularizing the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web . It was
also a client for earlier 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
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
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 , which employed
many of the original Mosaic authors; however, it intentionally shared
no code with Mosaic.
Netscape Navigator's code descendant is Mozilla
Firefox . Starting in 1995 Mosaic lost a lot of 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
Internet Explorer in 1995.
* 1 Background
* 2 Licensing
* 3 Immediate effect
* 4 Importance of Mosaic
* 5 End of Mosaic
* 6 Features
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
Mosaic 1.0 running under System 7.1 , displaying the Mosaic
Communications Corporation (later
Netscape ) website.
David Thompson tested
ViolaWWW and showed the application to Marc
Andreessen . Andreessen and
Eric Bina originally designed and
programmed NCSA Mosaic for Unix's
X Window System
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
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
Windows was released on November 11,
1993. NCSA Mosaic for
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
Macintosh had already
been released in September. From 1994 to 1997, the National Science
Foundation supported the further development of Mosaic. NCSA
Marc Andreessen, the leader of the team that developed Mosaic, left
NCSA and, with
James H. Clark
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
Corporation , producing
Netscape Navigator .
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 Versions
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
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, 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:
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
* SPRY Inc. (Products: A communication suite: Air Mail, Air News,
Air Mosaic, etc. Also producing
Internet In a Box with O'Reilly
">: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
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 Windows; this is Thomas R.
Bruce 's little-known Cello . And the
Unix version of Mosaic was
already famous before the
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 introduction.
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. Metcalf
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 (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 Netscape...
— —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
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. As of 3 September 2003 , VMS
OpenSSL , cookies , and various image
formats including GIF ,
JPEG , PNG , BMP , TGA , TIFF and
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 .
Mosaic is based on the libwww library and thus supported a wide
Internet protocols included in the library: Archie , FTP ,
gopher , HTTP , NNTP , telnet , WAIS .
Comparison of web browsers
* History of the
World Wide Web
World Wide Web
Kevin Hughes (Internet pioneer)
List of web browsers
* ^ Stewart, William. "Mosaic -- The First Global Web Browser".
Retrieved 22 February 2011.
* ^ "xmosaic 1.2 source code" . NCSA. 1994-06-29. Retrieved
Douglas Crockford (Sep 10, 2011). Crockford on
Volume 1: The Early Years.
YouTube . Event occurs at 1:35:50.
* ^ Andreessen, Marc. "Mosaic -- The First Global Web Browser".
* ^ A B C D Berners-Lee, Tim. "What were the first WWW browsers?".
World Wide Web
World Wide Web Consortium . Retrieved 2010-06-15.
* ^ Holwerda, Thom (3 Mar 2009). "The World\'s First Graphical
OSNews . Retrieved 2009-06-02.
* ^ A B C Vetter, Ronald J. (October 1994). "Mosaic and the
World-Wide Web" (PDF).
North Dakota State University . Archived from
the original (PDF) on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
* ^ "Exhibits -
Internet History - 1990\'s". Computer History
Museum. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
* ^ "Mosaic FTP" . NCSA. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
* ^ Clark, Jim (1999).
Netscape Time. St. Martin's Press.
* ^ A B C Berners-Lee, Tim. "A Brief History of the Web". World
Wide Web Consortium . Retrieved 16 August 2010.
* ^ Andreessen, Marc; Bina, Eric (1994). "NCSA Mosaic: A Global
Internet Research. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Group
Publishing Limited. 4 (1): 7–17. ISSN 1066-2243 . doi
* ^ "NCSA X Mosaic 0.5 released". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
* ^ "The History of NCSA Mosaic" . NCSA.
* ^ "About NCSA Mosaic". NCSA. Archived from the original on
September 27, 2013.
* ^ "NCSA Mosaic for X 2.0 available". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
* ^ 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". Retrieved 9 February 2011.
* ^ Elstrom, Peter (22 January 1997). "MICROSOFT\'S $8 MILLION
GOODBYE TO SPYGLASS".
Bloomberg Businessweek . Retrieved 9 February
* ^ A B Graham, Ian S. (1995). The