Since there was a functional internet filled with a web of html pages, that have addresses and names there needed to be a way to search for them which is where the web browser comes in. According to the Encarta Dictionary a Web Browser is a piece of computer software used to search for information on the World Wide Web. The browser locates the information that it is searching for through the use of a URI, Uniform Resource Identifier. URIs can be categorized as locators (Uniform Resource Locators, or as names (Uniform Resource Names), or as both. Browsers were intended for use in the World Wide Web, but they can be used to get information from web servers in private networks or files in a file system. The first web browser created was called the WorldWideWeb created by Tim Berners Lee. The name is similar to the World Wide Web, but unlike the World Wide Web the WorldWideWeb browser has no spaces in its' name.
In 1993, Marc Andreessen improved browser software further with his creation of a web browser named "Mosaic" and was later renamed "Netscape." The importance of Mosaic was that it was easy for the average person to use and therefore became the world's first popular web browser. Mosaic was also one of the first graphical web browsers and combined with its' user friendliness it led to a boom in the use of the internet in the 1990's. Later Andreessen built his own business named Netscape and he created a new browser Netscape Navigator which became just as popular as the parent browser. At its' high point Netscape Navigator accounted for nearly 90% of web usage!
In 1995, Microsoft came out with their browser which they named Internet Explorer. They bundled Internet Explorer with the purchase of Windows. Internet Explorer was influenced by Mosaic as well and once again the latest iteration of the previous web browsers came to dominate over the older web browsers. A few months later Microsoft came out with Internet Explorer 2.0 which they released free for download. Microsoft was the first company to release their browser as a free download. This gave them an edge over their competition at that time. In the future other companies would follow suit and release their browsers for free. The release of Internet Explorer also initiated the Browser Wars. Opera another web browser was released in 1996, though it never gained prominence and only accounted for less than 2% of browser usage. Opera is still in operation but has moved into the mobile market. They created a new browser called Opera-mini which was preinstalled on 40 million phones.
Netscape decided to create a new more competitive browser based on the Open Source software model. This browser was Firefox, which managed to gain a decent amount of followers. The next competitor in the Browser Wars was Apple who created a browser called "Safari." Safari was released in 2003 and in 2011 accounted for 7% of the entire browser market. More recently Google came out with a browser called Google Chrome. Google Chrome has continued to double in usage share since August 2011. With the increase in the usage of mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones the Browser Wars have taken on a new dimension. Companies now have to figure out how to format their browsers for mobile users. As mentioned previously Opera focused on making a mobile browser. Apple created a preinstalled Safari browser for their iPod touch, iPhone and iPod. For Android, Google Chrome, a browser based on webkit, and FireFox are available for download. Each mobile device has a unique set of browsers that are available for download and it remains to be seen which ones will come out on top.
That defines it