MARC ANDREESSEN Biography - Famous Scientists


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Marc Andreesen was a student and part-time assistant at the National Center for             
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois when the World             
Wide Web began to take off. His position at NCSA allowed him to become very                 
familiar with the Internet. Like just about everyone else who was involved with             
the Internet, he also became familiar with the Web. Most of the browsers                   
available then were for Unix machines which were expensive. This meant that the             
Web was mostly used by academics and engineers who had access to such machines.             
The user-interfaces of available browsers also tended to be not very user-friendly,         
which also hindered the spread of the Web. Marc decided to develop a browser               
that was easier to use and more graphically rich.                                           
In 1992, Andreesen recruited fellow NCSA employee, Eric Bina, to help with his             
project. The two worked tirelessly. Bina remembers that they would 'work three             
to four days straight, then crash for about a day' (Reid, 7). They called their             
new browser Mosaic. It was much more sophisticated graphically than other                   
browsers of the time. Like other browsers it was designed to display HTML                   
documents, but new formatting tags like "center" were included.                             
Especially important was the inclusion of the "image" tag which allowed to                 
include images on web pages. Earlier browsers allowed the viewing of pictures,             
but only as separate files. Mosaic made it possible for images and text to                 
appear on the same page. Mosaic also sported a graphical interface with                     
clickable buttons that let users navigate easily and controls that let users               
scroll through text with ease. Another innovative feature was the hyper-link. In           
earlier browsers hypertext links had reference numbers that the user typed in to           
navigate to the linked document. Hyper-links allowed the user to simply click on           
a link to retrieve a document.                                                             
In early 1993, Mosaic was posted for download on NCSA's servers. It was                     
immediately popular. Within weeks tens of thousands of people had downloaded the           
software. The original version was for Unix. Andreesen and Bina quickly put                 
together a team to develop PC and Mac versions, which were released in the late             
spring of the same year. With Mosaic now available for more popular platforms,             
its popularity skyrocketed. More users meant a bigger Web audience. The bigger             
audiences spurred the creation of new content, which in turn further increased             
the audience on the Web and so on. As the number of users on the Web increased,             
the browser of choice was Mosaic so its distribution increased accordingly.                 
By December 1993, Mosaic's growth was so great that it made the front page of               
the New York Times business section. The article concluded that Mosaic was                 
perhaps "an application program so different and so obviously useful that it can           
create a new industry from scratch" (Reid, 17). NCSA administrators were quoted             
in the article, but there was no mention of either Andreesen or Bina. Marc                 
realized that when he was through with his studies NCSA would take over Mosaic             
for themselves. So when he graduated in December 1993, he left and moved to                 
Silicon Valley in California.