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.

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Internet Explorer 3, 1996 Escaping the developmental womb in the same year and month as Navigator 3, Internet Explorer 3 was Microsoft's first serious salvo in what are now known as the "browser wars." So serious, in fact, that Netscape would never, ever recover.

That Navigator had been the superior product to that point in time was indisputable. Microsoft seemingly needed a little time to fully discover the Internet, and Explorer versions 1 and 2 were less than spectacular. Nevertheless, its tight integration with Windows had gained Microsoft a solid user base. When the third iteration appeared—again at no cost and sporting cool new features such as support for multimedia, Java applets, ActiveX controls, and add-ons like Internet Mail—the worm had turned.

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

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