Netscape Communications

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Netscape Communications

legal form Corporation
founding April 4, 1994
resolution July 15, 2003
Reason for dissolution Handover of browser development to the Mozilla Foundation and integration of the remainder of the company in AOL
Seat Mountain View , California , USAUnited StatesUnited States 
Number of employees 10,000
Branch Software , ISP

Netscape Communications was an American software company that developed and marketed the Netscape Navigator web browser from 1994 onwards . After changing business development, the listed company was merged with AOL in 1998 for a value of 4.2 billion US dollars . It existed in the group under the name Netscape Communications , but was dissolved on July 15, 2003.


Independent company

Netscape was founded on April 4, 1994 as Mosaic Communications Corporation by Marc Andreessen , one of the co-developers of the NCSA Mosaic web browser , and the computer entrepreneur James H. Clark , who made the foundation possible with 9 million US dollars. The browser he developed was first launched as Mosaic Netscape , then as Netscape Navigator . With the renaming in November 1994 in Netscape Communications Corporation conflicts with the owners of the rights of NCSA Mosaic were avoided.

Netscape went public in August 1995 and subsequently released further versions of the browser, which was now called Netscape Communicator in the package with HTML editor , e-mail and news application . In January 1998, the company launched the Mozilla project after Netscape had lost significant market share in favor of Microsoft's Internet Explorer due to Microsoft's aggressive marketing policy, which was later punished by antitrust law .

After this so-called browser war , Netscape tried a fresh start with the Netscape Communicator 4.5 in October 1998, which was called into question by the takeover of the company by AOL in November 1998.

Development in the AOL group

Since 1998 there were doubts about the seriousness of AOL to continue the development of the Netscape browser. When AOL-Time-Warner and Microsoft settled their dispute over the market displacement of Netscape by Internet Explorer with the payment of 750 million US dollars from Microsoft to AOL in May 2003 and AOL the license-free use of the Internet Explorer rendering engine for another seven years Admittedly, AOL's exit from Mozilla development seemed likely.

Unsurprisingly, on July 15, 2003, AOL dismissed the last fifty developers of the browser and discontinued its financial commitment to the Mozilla project. The rights to the entire Netscape technology, essentially the Gecko rendering engine and the Bugzilla bug tracker , were transferred to the newly established Mozilla Foundation , which also provided AOL with two million dollars in seed capital. This ended AOL's commitment to the active development of Netscape browser technology.

AOL kept the rights to the Netscape brand and tried to build a second Internet access service under this name in North America since the fall of 2003.

Further development of the software

Nevertheless, AOL released another version (7.2) of Netscape Communicator in August 2004 , which was based on Mozilla 1.7. On May 19, 2005, Netscape 8.0 was released. The completely redesigned browser, which was now based on Mozilla Firefox , offered numerous already integrated features and gimmicks, but, contrary to the Netscape tradition, only ran on Windows operating systems because it also used the Internet Explorer engine. The Gecko engine was responsible for the user interface, however. The browser was a contract development for a Canadian software company and, like all Netscape versions, has only been actively marketed in North America since 2003.

At the beginning of January 2007 it was announced that Netscape was working on a new browser version. In contrast to Netscape 8, Netscape Navigator 9 was again developed internally; In connection with old traditions, the browser was again called the navigator . Netscape Navigator 9 was also based on Mozilla Firefox, but unlike version 8 no longer integrated the Internet Explorer engine and therefore appeared again for Windows, Mac and Linux. The first final version (9.0) was released on October 15, 2007; on December 10, version At the same time it became known that Netscape was also working on an e-mail / news program that would appear under the name Netscape Messenger ; a first alpha version appeared on November 15, 2007. Netscape Messenger was based on Mozilla Thunderbird.

On December 28, 2007, however, AOL announced that it would withdraw from the development of the browser and discontinue support for all Netscape browsers on February 1, 2008. The reason given was that the investments for sufficient further development would not find room in AOL's corporate orientation. It was recommended that users switch to Firefox and use the extensions provided by Netscape to adapt Firefox to Netscape in terms of appearance and operation. The Netscape support was extended to March 1, 2008 by the AOL subsidiary.


Although Netscape was equated with the browser of the same name, the company made most of its money in the business-to-business sector. The first web server was created in 1994, and mail, video conference and streaming media servers were added later.


  • Helmut Neumann: The Lexicon of Internet Pioneers. Lexikon-Imprint-Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-89602-505-8 .
  • Herbert Braun: Netscape: An obituary . c't 3/2008, p. 54

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Frank Patalong : AOL-Microsoft-Allianz: When giants dance . Spiegel Online , May 30, 2003, accessed January 27, 2016.
  2. Dan Larkin: Netscape Navigator web browser is dead ., December 28, 2007, accessed on January 27, 2016.
    André Kramer: AOL is discontinuing support for Netscape . Heise online , December 29, 2007, accessed January 27, 2016.
  3. ^ Herbert Braun: Netscape support extended until March 1st . Heise online , January 29, 2008, accessed January 27, 2016.