Actually, in the beginning (1993) there was Mosaic, a browser developed at the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications. It segued into Netscape, the first commercial browser in the United States.
Mosaic was the graphical browser “that allow[ed users to travel through the world of electronic information using a point-and-click interface,” Wired wrote in 1994.
Mosaic is not the most direct way to find online information. Nor is it the most powerful. It is merely the most pleasurable way, and in the 18 months since it was released, Mosaic has incited a rush of excitement and commercial energy unprecedented in the history of the Net.
At that point in Internet and World Wide Web history, firms like America Online (AOL), CompuServe and Prodigy made it (relatively) easy for the less technical (anyone with a computer then was a techie of sorts) to get online.
In April 1994, Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics Inc., launched Mosaic Communications and hired those University of Illinois programmers. Including Marc Andreessen.
“[Mosaic] was a first draft anyway by a bunch of students,” Clark says. “So, let’s start over and do it right.”
In December, they changed the company name to Netscape.
In mid-December 1994, the group released version 1.0, now known as Netscape Navigator. It was a massive success. Besides the interface’s point-and-click simplicity, Netscape also provided unprecedented security.
In August 1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95 and its own web browser, Internet Explorer (MSIE), which was built on code from Spyglass.
The browser wars began.
Eventually, MSIE would dominate Netscape. The US government launched an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft along that bumpy road.
Microsoft retired MSIE in 2021; its replacement, Edge, is a standards compliant browser (unlike its predecessor) built on Chromium, an open source project managed by Google.