• Marianne Calilhanna

A Trip in the Wayback Machine: Netscape 1996


In 1996 Netscape was The Starting Point for many a web journey. In the fall of 1996 Netscape Communications Corporation unveiled an integrated client/server software solution for "a new era of open email and groupware as rich as the Web." The new Netscape Intranet solutions enabled corporate customers to build and manage "Full Service Intranets using the new Netscape SuiteSpot 3.0 integrated server suite. With this tool we were could access Intranet and Internet information using the new Netscape Communicator client software product.


The Netscape portal proclaimed itself "the guide to navigating the Net." What's really fascinating (and confusing from the modern perspective) is how fragmented the tools and portals were in the early days:

  • Netscape Navigator: a web browser

  • Netscape Destinations: a showcase of websites and "destinations" across a variety of topics

  • Netscape Communicator: integrated client software that "users need every day to communicate, share data and access information on Intranets and the Internet"

  • Netscape SuiteSpot 3.0: integrated server software suite of ten server products for building corporate Intranets.

  • Net Search: part search engine; part directories--the ability to search and select results from Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Magellan, and Yaoo

There are also a host of Netscape plug-ins one could download to do wild things like use your computer as a "real-time telephone" or experience "interactive 3D scenes." It's a wild trip to travel back to Netscape '96 and consider how systems interoperability and content discovery were strung together by understanding, downloading, and installing so many tools and plug-ins. Check it out here.


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