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The Internet Netscape

Netscape Turns 10 299

An anonymous reader writes "Today marks ten years since the first public beta of Netscape Navigator was released. Both CNet and MozillaZine have full coverage, with the former revealing that AOL is planning to release a new version Netscape in the New Year (thankfully separate from the IE-based version of AOL's browser). Even the Netscape portal (which never mentions the Netscape browser) is celebrating the anniversary. A lot of water has passed under the bridge in the last decade (especially since AOL bought Netscape) and the baton has now passed onto the Netscape alumni-filled Mozilla Foundation, but it's still worth remembering that Netscape changed the world not once (by making the first really good browser), but twice (by being the first major commercial program to go open source)."
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Netscape Turns 10

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  • by JazzXP ( 770338 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:46PM (#10520526) Homepage
    Didn't it die when it was 5?
  • Cool, cool, cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:48PM (#10520533)
    Hard to believe it's been 10 years. Time flies when your having fun! I don't remember which version of Netscape I used first, but I remeber downloading the code when it became available. That was one cool day for me.
    • Re:Cool, cool, cool (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I was kind of surprised to see it's been ten years. It seems longer ago than that.

      I guess the IE years haven't been much fun ;)

    • Re:Cool, cool, cool (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      I remember the hype surrounding the 2.0 launch. It was going to be 8MB, and considered hugely bloated at this size (considering that at the time, my hard drive was 60MB, and a full install of MS Word took 10MB including clipart). After Netscape 2 was launched, no one was going to care what OS they were using. All software was going to be run through the browser.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:48PM (#10520535)

    98% advertising, 2 % content
    why anyone would visit it by choice is a mystery
  • The old netscape (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thedillybar ( 677116 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:49PM (#10520542)
    I remember the old Netscape. Really bulky and yet I still ran it over IE. Took what seemed like forever to load with 16(?) MB of RAM.

    Props to how far Mozilla has come. I guess the increased computing power helped them a tad :) Salute to our pioneers as well.

    • Re:The old netscape (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SmilingBoy ( 686281 )
      You are lucky! I ran Netscape (3.something? Gold?) on a 486/33 with 4 MB RAM... That was in the beginning of 1998 (when the computer was already 5 years old). I did have a 14,400 modem, and at times the computer would take longer rendering sites than it took for the data to come in. Seriously though, for WWW, this setup was pretty unusable, but it was fine for E-Mail.
      • Re:The old netscape (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gmajor ( 514414 )
        Started off using Lynx on 2400 baud :-)

        A few months later I finally got my hands on a PPP connection and used Netscape 1.1. Still remember the animated shooting star Netscape that would display when a pag was loading.

        Back in the day... when Geocities was called "Beverly Hills Internet" and Webcrawler was the alternative to Yahoo.

        Curiously, I also remember when Netscape began to offer serious cash bounties [] (~$1,000) for anyone who discovered security holes in their browser. I wish Microsoft would do that.
        • I started off with Mosaic then went from Netscape version 1 to verstion 4.7. I remember that god awful animated blue 'N'. The shooting star was a godsend compared to that.

          When Netscape 6 was released I dumped it out of dismay and used IE until Mozilla was released. I have not looked back since. :)

        • Curiously, I also remember when Netscape began to offer serious cash bounties (~$1,000) for anyone who discovered security holes in their browser. I wish Microsoft would do that.

          Microsoft, even with all their money, would be bankrupt in no time if they did that.
    • Re:The old netscape (Score:5, Interesting)

      by singularity ( 2031 ) * <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:25AM (#10520776) Homepage Journal
      Ehh, If you are talking the same time as IE, you are not thinking old enough. Once Netscape 3.x came out (which, if I remember correctly, was about the time IE was first released), it was pretty bulky.

      Back when you were able to get just Netscape Navigator (the stand-alone browser without the HTML editor, mail client, and so on), it was pretty smooth. I remember running 2.2N on my Mac for a long time (up until about Netscape 4.1.7 or so)

      Of course, that was some time after Netscape hit the scene. I remember downloading Mosaic for the first time sometime around Christmas break of 1993-1994. Netscape 0.9 was sometime after that.

      I liked to tell my students (when I was working in a high school) that there used to be a page called "What is new on the Internet" that would list all new pages to go up.

      Netscape started out a good browser, but the 3.x bloat really slowed progress down. That was back when Netscape seemed on top of the world, though. Portal, web server, web browser, mail client, news client, you name it. For the briefest amount of time, before Microsoft woke up, they seemed to control the Internet.

      It is interesting to see projects like Firefox finally getting back to the simplicity of the original Netscape browsers.
      • Re:The old netscape (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Angostura ( 703910 )
        What's new on the Web was hosted as SAIC, I think, required daily reading. Ah yes, I remember when the Cambridge University Trojan Room coffee-pot cam [] was put on-line, how cool was that?

        I'd like to take issue with the original poster's assertion that Netscape was the first major piece of commercial software to go Open... It may have been available for sale, but Netscape would never reveal how many licenses were sold. I don't think you could call it 'major commercial' judged from the commercial revenues.
    • I remember the old Netscape. Really bulky and yet I still ran it over IE.

      Same here. I ran Netscape 3.01 for such a long was really the best browser out there for quite a while after newer versions came out. I hated both Netscape 4.x and IE so much. Well, 4.0x had one redeeming value: I loved the mail/news client. It's a damn shame that 4.5 destroyed it. Or maybe it was the other away around, with 4.5+ having the better one...honestly, it's been so long I barely remember. It was probably 4.0x t
    • All you guys who used to run Netscape on old hardware... hah. I *currently* run Mozilla on my Slackware 10 P133 with 32MB of RAM! Startup is a little slow but once everything except Mozilla swaps out to disk, it's not too bad for googling stuff. Uh, don't try to multitask though.

      I also use it on a P90 laptop with 40MB of RAM, and it actually runs faster there. That extra 8MB must make all the difference.
  • by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:51PM (#10520549)
    I'm serious, why on Earth does AOL even bother with Netscape when they, despite being perfectly able to, not just put Netscape into their flagship AOL software? There's already a million browsers that use the IE rendering engine, so why not do something new for a change!
    • Because business people are making technical decisions, even if they don't know what the hell they are doing.

      It always ends in disaster.

      With Mozilla, you have technical people making technical decisions, and we've ended up with an awsome browser.
    • by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:05AM (#10520659)
      Because by shipping/using IE, AOL becomes one of their "premier partners" or whatever it is called.

      A company I once worked for reaped the benefits of choosing to distribute IE over Netscape. While the Netscape people wanted $45 a copy from us per customer, Microsoft agreed to give us their browser for free and entered into an advertising partnership which reaped us millions in revenue. I can only imagine how well this works out for a company of AOL's size. Amazingly, our technical support costs went down. The statistics we gathered of our 700,000 customers showed both Mac and PC systems had less trouble with IE than Netscape. Less calls to suppport equates to saving lots of money for the company.

      Then you have to look at what is to gain by an ISP/content provider to spend enormous time and resources developing their own browser in house. It isn't like they would make any money with it. This, I think, has a lot to do with the status of mozilla source. They threw it to the open source community, now it is us to make it better.

  • sigh.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:51PM (#10520554) Journal
    It's kind of sad that the name "netscape" has become synonymous with "out of date" with most people though. 4.7 just hung around way to long I guess.
  • by dancingmad ( 128588 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:51PM (#10520555)
    While the older versions of Netscape is the butt of many a joke, nothing beats the electricity I felt when I first started browsing the web with Netscape. I mean, back then, browsing with Netscape, I knew that the web was going to be something huge (I remember playing silly games on Nintendo's web site). Netscape had a huge hand in creating that and the web as we know it. There were browsers before (not to mention IRC, Gopher, etc.) but Netscape helped bring the WWW and the Internet to the masses.

    More power to Netscape's heir, Firefox, which is set to take the web crown back and help perfect the web experience Netscape pioneered.
    • Hell ya! I remember using old Netscape on a 386 with Windows 3.11 and a 28.8 modem, and waited axiously for the images of naked chicks to slowly form from rectagles composed of thick bars of colors. Those were the days... and they sucked. ;)
    • by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:30AM (#10521077) Journal
      Yeah, reminds me of the line from JWZ's website [] -

      When we started this company [Netscape], we were out to change the world. And we did that. Without us, the change probably would have happened anyway, maybe six months or a year later, and who-knows-what would have played out differently. But we were the ones who actually did it. When you see URLs on grocery bags, on billboards, on the sides of trucks, at the end of movie credits just after the studio logos -- that was us, we did that. We put the Internet in the hands of normal people. We kick-started a new communications medium. We changed the world.

      Indeed. They very much were the ones who brought the WWW to the masses.
  • First?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bay43270 ( 267213 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:52PM (#10520559) Homepage
    ...but it's still worth remembering that Netscape changed the world not once (by making the first really good browser)...

    What was wrong with Mosaic []?
    • Well, for my own personal anecdote, Netscape seemed much faster than Mosaic.

      When I started browsing the internet in the Hershey Medical Center computer lab back in my high school days (my mother worked there, so I went in and used the computers), I was using Mosaic on Macintosh Quadra 700s and eventually PowerMac 6100s...

      Although I can no longer remember the details I do remember Netscape being better than Mosaic, and it was because of speed and perhaps interface IIRC.

      Can anyone back me up on this or am I

    • Re:First?!? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What was wrong with gopher??
    • Re:First?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by typhoonius ( 611834 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:35AM (#10520822)

      NCSA Mosaic was programmed by Marc Andreessen, who, of course, created Netscape Communications, so I guess it's all in the family.

    • Re:First?!? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr. Hankey ( 95668 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:03AM (#10520946) Homepage
      Apparently nothing as far as Microsoft was concerned. IE was originally a customized version of Spry Mosaic, as a part of one of the most monumental fleecings of all time (Altamira notwithstanding.) Microsoft promised to pay a portion of their profits to Spry in return for the browser code, and then gave it (IE) away. Any percent of zero is of course still zero.

      To answer your question though, I do remember Netscape having far more rendering features than Mosaic. I seem to recall that background images especially were more interesting in Netscape. A fair amount of the features were non-standard in the same manner as IE's MSHTML extensions though. Many a webmaster would say that we're still recovering from Netscape-specific tags.
      • Re:First?!? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Marlor ( 643698 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @02:27AM (#10521303)
        Apparently nothing as far as Microsoft was concerned. IE was originally a customized version of Spry Mosaic, as a part of one of the most monumental fleecings of all time (Altamira notwithstanding.) Microsoft promised to pay a portion of their profits to Spry in return for the browser code, and then gave it (IE) away. Any percent of zero is of course still zero.

        It was Spyglass Mosaic, rather than Spry Mosaic that licensed their code to Microsoft.

        It is a shame that they settled with Microsoft (for $8M) in 1997, becuse MS started claiming that IE was an intrinsic part of Windows soon afterwards, so Spyglass would have had a case that they deserved royalties from all copies of Windows sold.
      • Re:First?!? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Albanach ( 527650 )
        You'll still find Mosaic credited if you loook in 'help > about' on Internet Explorer

        Based on NCSA Mosaic. NCSA Mosaic(TM); was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    • What was wrong with Mosaic?

      It was hard to use with the default preferences, IMO. I don't even remember the specifics, but I first used Mosaic for thirty minutes and gave up on it; I first used Netscape 0.9 and became almost instantly obsessed. Somehow, it was just easier, more intuitive, and more comfortable to use.
    • Re:First?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by grotgrot ( 451123 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:57AM (#10521218)
      What was wrong with Mosaic?

      The single biggest problem with Mosaic was that it wouldn't display any of the page until it had downloaded every single image and worked out what size they were. IIRC it also only used one network connection to do the image downloads. The big thing that made people say "wow" about Netscape was it showing you the page and then filling in the images, reflowing the page as necessary. That resulted in people dropping Mosaic real quick.

      Mosaic was also most at home on Unix. That was all fine for people like me who used Sun Workstations at work, but most didn't have that. The Windows and Mac versions lagged the Unix version, and had to have a lot of different code due to OS differences (those were the days of Win16 for example).

      IIRC Netscape was also the first browser to implement tables and do a decent job of it. Within a month or less of the first release of Netscape, I didn't know anyone who used Mosaic any more. There were some more releases of Mosaic by uiuc, but most of their browser and server people had gone to Netscape.

    • Re:First?!? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trejkaz ( 615352 )
      Indeed. The name Mozilla is a contraction of "Mosaic killer."
    • SSL and JavaScript (Score:5, Informative)

      by upside ( 574799 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @03:11AM (#10521467) Journal
      ...two things introduced by Nutscrape. These were a huge boost for the Web, particularly commercial applications like online shopping.
  • Go Gopher! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:53PM (#10520563)
    Netscape? World Wide Web. Bleah. I remember the good old days when Gopher was king. That was perfect -- none of this graphical mumbo jumbo and "tags". No Septembers that never ended.
  • is there an netscape archive of all the netscape versions released? it would be interesting to run the old version for memory sakes...
  • perhaps we could all encapsulate our websites with the <blink> tag?
  • by genericacct ( 692294 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:56PM (#10520590)
    Is Netscape evil or saintly? I can't keep it straight. They broke W3C standards and are owned by AOL, but Mozilla doesn't suck anymore.

    If only Slashdot could tell me what to think.

  • DevEdge is offline (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Codeala ( 235477 )
    Just in time for DevEdge to be shutdown too... =5 381

    Whats up with that?
  • by tao_of_biology ( 666898 ) * <tao DOT of DOT biology AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:59PM (#10520606)
    For those who haven't seen it, or those who want to relive it, I found Netscape 0.9 beta (from 10-27-1994) here [].

    I haven't actually tried running running it, but the links seems to be working.

    I wonder if slashdot is renderable under Netscape 0.9...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:59PM (#10520608)
    Perhaps its time I updated.
  • by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:02AM (#10520628) Homepage
    God I loved it! For me that was the Internet!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:03AM (#10520637)

    For the youngins, you can use a Netscape emulator [] (and Mosaic and early IE) to feel what it was like. It's fun to see what sites do and see if they even load.

    I'm probably /.'ing it with this, but it does say "Sorry, due to heavy load on the server, browsing is quite slow. On the positive side, it makes the experience even more authentic.."

    I especially love "You probably forgot the "http://" part. Remember: the old browsers did not provide that service... Give it another try!" when you enter a URL without the http:// component.

  • Evil company... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FiReaNGeL ( 312636 ) <fireang3l@hGAUSS ... m minus math_god> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:05AM (#10520653) Homepage
    AOL completely killed any glimpse of hope Netscape had to win the 'browser war'... imagine if Firefox came with AIM, ads that pop up everywhere, installed 2-3 advertising gimmicks, put links everywhere about itself... and didn't have any features over IE. I completely stopped using Netscape, which was by far my favorite browser at the time, when they released the AOL version (6 I think?).

    Netscape is dead, long live Netscape! (in Firefox's form!)
  • by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:14AM (#10520704)
    Firefox is gaining some momentum - maybe enough to make web developers take note. The Mozilla project also has two other great Firefox-like (small single-purpose applications) initiatives, Sunbird [] and Thunderbird [].

    The important thing right now is that we use this momentum, and that we continue to innovate. Here's some issues I believe are important:

    • SVG support. It's incomplete - but I think it is unwise not to have at least some level of SVG support in mainline Firefox 1.0 builds. "Build it, and they will come": both web and Mozilla developers. SVG is really a key technology for next-generation web design based on open standards. As an example, Wikipedia has a nice extension called EasyTimeline [] for rendering graphical timelines. These are currently ugly, non-zoomable PNGs -- SVG would be perfect here, as it would allow timelines with a changing level of detail as you zoom in. Much of the stuff that is currently being done with Flash can be done with SVG.
    • Leverage XUL. Whenever I show people demos like MAB [] and Robin [], they tend to be impressed: easy, powerful, instantly deployable web applications. In my opinion, XUL should get a lot more exposure within Firefox - both the product and the website. Make a promise to XUL developers: If you use XUL to write open source applications, and it meets our quality standards, we will add it to the default Firefox bookmarks, and promote it on our website.
    • New UIs. Tabs are great, but they're not the Holy Grail of UI design. For example, they don't scale - managing more than 20 or so open documents in one browser is not feasible because you just have lots of "..."s. At this point, I would rather have a vertical, scrollable list of open documents with a nice, dynamic (incremental) title search to instant-switch to a window of your choice, and some other cool navigation tools ("skip to next website from another domain than the current one" etc.). There's no reason why a modern browser shouldn't make it easy to manage 50 or 100 open documents.
    • Better editing controls. Yes, I know what you're thinking: Keep Firefox lean. But having a good integrated text editor for things like wikis or even this form into which I'm typing into right now makes life a lot easier for the average user.

    Now, if you really want a glimpse of the future, imagine, if you will, that a HTML textarea worked like SubEthaEdit [] and allowed you to invite other users to edit with your collaboratively, in real-time, a wiki page or weblog entry. But even this really just scratches the surface. The point is, the browser is an immensely important platform. With Firefox, we now have the chance to give an incredible amount of real power to end users. It's not "just a browser" - it's one of the key components of future information and collaboration devices.

    Congratulations to the Mozilla project for getting us where we are right now. We still have a long way to go. I hope in 10 years, open source technology will be used by virtually everyone to access the rapidly growing digital commons.

    • Firefox is gaining some momentum - maybe enough to make web developers take note

      Just to let you know ... I work in the internet division of a major sports network. Let me just say, that in my department all developers and engineers are not only aware of Firefox, but use it primarily as their browser of choice.
    • Whenever I show people demos like MAB and Robin, they tend to be impressed

      Except that it only works on Mozilla browsers. I don't care how open source Mozilla is, these kinds of applications only perpetuate the idea that one must standardize on a particular browser. This application-is-the-standard mindset must go.

      Right now my work is deploying IE web apps as fast as they possibly can. It's not annoying that I have to switch over to IE to use these, it's annoying that I have to switch over from my current
  • There has been little water under Netscape's bridge since AOL bought it. (Insert Troll joke here.) When it was upsetting paradigms with its flawed, yet inspiring new paradigm, the water was flowing, pushing many a mill. But the water has been more and more stagnant for at least the past 4 or 5 years. Where's Jim Clark's desperate need for the next big thing when we need it? His new boat can't be that big, that it's somehow big enough.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If memory serves, that release introduced the world to Java (browser integrated), JavaScript, plugins, frames, SSL, and cookies, all about a year and a half after the founding of the company.

    Now *that* was a major feature release.
  • The funny thing is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:29AM (#10520793) Journal
    When I go online in Windows at home (rare) I still use Netscape, even upgraded it to 7.1, because I'm a cantankerous old fart. At work or in Linux I always use Firefox, never liked IE, never thought Gates had the right to tell me what had to be on a box he didn't pay for, running on an electric bill he didn't pay. That feeling hasn't changed. The average user couldn't find a way to start it on my machine (XP). Hell, I used Lotus Smart suite for 8 years, just to avoid office, at less than half the price. Now? OO, no matter which OS is running, WinXP/RH9/Suse 9.1.
  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:48AM (#10520880)
    Is it bad that the netscape page: ber=1 [] doesn't render correctly in the latest firefox?
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:20AM (#10521025) Homepage Journal
    Let us not forget CERN []'s early work with the www client and wwwd server. In particular, the work of Tim Berners-Lee []. That link includes some web history.

    Let us not also forget NCSA Mosaic [], which became a "killer app" in the early/mid 1990s, before being spun off as SpyGlass.

    My memory is faulty, but I believe more than half of the NCSA team left the project and formed NetScape. Can anyone correct this?

    The web as we know it also owes a debt to previous research in hypertext systems dating back decades, as well as existing document-markup systems.

    To those who keep Mozilla alive today:
    I salute you, but do take too much pride in yourselves:
    Never forget that you stand on the shoulders of giants.
  • Netscape Dorm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr Fodder ( 93517 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:29AM (#10521070)
    Don't forget this little jem: NSCP Dorm (Netscape Dorm) []. Jamie Zawinski kept a diary of sorts about Netscape starting up. Some off-topic but almost always interesting nonetheless.
  • by hai.uchida ( 814492 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:30AM (#10521076)
    I remember when you were [BUFFERING... BUFFERING...] Oh, wait. That's Real. Sorry, wrong joke.
  • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @02:30AM (#10521311) Homepage
    GCC was free software and commercial software well before the Netscape browser was written. GCC predates the open source movement by many years and served as a means for some consultancies to have so much business they had waiting lists (according to Brad Kuhn when he visited the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and gave a talk on the free software movement). GCC qualifies as open source software, but since it was initially written by RMS (the founder of the free software movement) for the GNU project, I think it's fair to say it is a free software program.
  • by lothar97 ( 768215 ) * <[owen] [at] []> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @03:34AM (#10521544) Homepage Journal
    I remember beta testing Netscape 0.9. At the time, my college only had Mosaic, easiest to use on Unix terminals. Netscape brought better browsers to the Mac and PC, and also had a really novel innovation: the stop button. I remember how much it used to suck going to a website (using Mosaic), and having to wait for a massive page to load. With Netscape, I could click the stop button, and move about my business. That's what changed the web...!
  • by cgreuter ( 82182 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @07:57PM (#10530475)

    We used to love to hate it, back in the early days of the Web.

    It was awful. It was even less stable than Mosaic. It was slow, ugly and a memory hog that brought our multi-user Unix boxes to their knees, something which sucked mightily if you were trying to compile your assignments.

    But that wasn't the worst of it.

    HTML used to be a content-based markup language. It was there to tell the browser what the text meant and deciding how it looked was the job of the browser.

    But Netscape went and added all of these formatting features to make the desktop publishing people more comfortable. In the process, they completely screwed things up for non-graphical browsers or, since the extensions were proprietary, pretty much any other browser as well.

    And because Netscape was there just as people were getting onto the Web, it became synonymous with the Internet in the minds of the general public so everybody had it and most web designers used the Netscape-specific tags. It got to the point where all the non-Netscape user could see was the little blurb telling you you should switch to Netscape. They were well on the way to locking the entire Web into their proprietary standards.

    Then, Microsoft noticed the Internet and showed everybody how it's done.

    The End.

    On the other hand, Firefox is pretty good.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.