In Pictures: The 10 most important milestones in Web browser history

Okay, say you have this shiny new car. It looks great, it performs like a demon, it features all the latest safety gadgets, and it's crawling with creature comforts. Just one problem, though. The local tinkerer, clearly consumed by jealousy, comes by sometime during the night to disassemble the entire thing. Sitting in the middle of a zillion bits and pieces the next morning, you quickly realize how totally useless this marvelously complicated car has become. This is the Internet without a browser. Far more than the blank slate it appears to be, a Web browser is ridiculously sophisticated and entirely capable of morphing the code-crazed reality of the Internet into the Matrix-like façade we now can't live without.

Netscape Navigator 3, 1996 Two years after the release of the original Navigator came the version that arguably cemented the Internet as the ubiquitous force all the nerds knew it would be. It was an exciting time for the Netscape braintrust, knowing that three out of four consumers logging on to the rapidly expanding online juggernaut were doing so through a Netscape product.

Yet in retrospect, one can see little tears in the Netscape fabric. Navigator 3 delivered fewer breakthrough concepts than Navigator 2, instead riding to some extent on the popularity of its predecessors. Nor did it fully address the bugs that plagued prior versions. But the most worrisome tear of all was taking place outside the Netscape realm, in Redmond, Washington.

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