The Stagnant History of the Browser Interface: A Retrospective

More

Since the 1993 introduction of Mosaic, the browser widely credited with popularizing the Web, the number of hosts on the Internet has grown from a little over one million to over 750 million. But despite that exponential growth, one part of the Web hasn't changed that much: the look and feel of the browsers we use to access it.

Over at the official Google Chrome blog today, Product Manager Brian Rakowski celebrates the browser's second birthday by reflecting on how much has changed in just two years: javascript is 10 times faster and HTML5 support is now critical. Just as striking, though, is how similar the latest version of the browser looks to the one released two years ago. And Chrome isn't alone. While there have obviously been design upgrades -- buttons now have shadows, gradients, and different colors and sizes, and toolbars have appeared and disappeared -- the basic interface remains the same, a row of buttons: new, open, back, forward, print, reload, stop, etc.

Under the hood, Mosaic is primitive by today's standards, but it's design is recognizable. Sure, it's all black, white and gray with flat buttons, but it would take absolutely no time to adjust to it. Everything is in the right place; the way we interact with browsers has barely changed.

Here's a look back at a few major browser releases, starting with Mosaic.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In