Let’s time-travel back to August 1995, when Bill Gates and his company introduced the world to Internet Explorer 1.0. Making its debut on August 16, 1995, this wasn’t the IE you later spurned for Chrome and Firefox. No, this was the IE that introduced many to the wonders of the Internet. And, you actually had to pay for it.
Available exclusively through the Microsoft Plus! add-on to Windows 95 (released August 24, 1995), IE 1.0 was a Mosaic-based browser licensed by Microsoft from Spyglass Incorporated. You might associate Mosaic with the other side in the late-1990s “browser wars”: Netscape Navigator, also Mosaic-based. As Microsoft sought browser dominance, the pay-for-play model of IE didn’t last long. In 1996, the free Internet Explorer 3.0 was introduced, along with the iconic IE logo. And, in 1997, Microsoft began bundling IE with Windows, just as the Internet became mainstream, leading to an anti-trust and monopoly case but effectively killing Netscape Navigator. As of 2002, versions of IE accounted for 95 percent of browser use.
Internet Explorer’s downfall
Eventually, IE’s clunky nature was its downfall, leading to thousands of memes (enjoy a sampling of the best). Microsoft tried to capitalize on IE’s bad rap with a “browser you love(d) to hate” ad campaign promoting the launch of IE9 in 2012, but, by then, most of us had moved on. Today, Microsoft has retired IE in favor of the Edge browser.
Still, it’s worth remembering that once upon a time the Internet was new and that IE and Windows were so novel that Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry—at the height of Friends mania—appeared in a you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it Windows training video. Watch it from the comfort of your non-IE browser.