With the recent takeover of Netscape by the web browser giant America Online, Scott Collins and Tara Hernandez, two of the original pioneers of Netscape, vented their frustration and disgust in a two-hour lecture at Temple University Monday.
“I cannot speak for anyone from Mozilla (a open-source web browser under the command of Netscape), but I can tell you that AOL sucks,” Collins said.
Netscape was first established in 1994 and quickly became the popular choice among 80 percent of all Internet users. Netscape then established Mozilla. In 1995, Microsoft Windows exploded onto the computer scene along with its own free browser Internet Explorer, a faster and cheaper browser than Netscape.
The emergence of the more efficient Internet Explorer, led to the decline in the popularity and stock of Netscape. It became an expendable commodity.
In 1998 AOL decided to purchase Netscape, and it proved beneficial because it officially gave AOL the title as an elite web browser. Once AOL bought Netscape, it immediately scrapped Mozilla.
Collins said when AOL wanted to buy Netscape and scrap Mozilla, they did not want to purchase them because “they liked their culture” or because “they wanted to base their product on our ideas.”
Collins said at the time, Netscape and Mozilla were suing Microsoft. AOL wanted to get the money from Netscape and Mozilla.
“They then used us a bargaining chip with Microsoft because Microsoft was the core of their browser,” Collins said.
He said AOL gets whatever they deserve because what they did to Netscape and Mozilla is what Microsoft will eventually do to them.
Collins and Hernandez also discussed the pros and cons of not only the computer industry but the real world itself.
Collins told students, “you will find out that real life is completely different from things you thought you were learning from lessons.”
Collins is the chief scientist and owner of the computer software company Ann Arbor Digital Arts. He has been involved in the computer software field for more than 25 years. He has also worked for various software giants including Apple and Netscape. He played a key role in the establishment of Netscape’s Mozilla, which he is still involved with today.
Hernandez also played an internal role in the establishment of Netscape and the development of Mozilla. She has been involved with computer software for the past 15 years. She has worked for past computer software giants, which are non-existent now, such as Blue Martini and Boreland International.
Currently, Hernandez works at Pixtar Animation studios where she develops internal infrastructure of animated scenes.
Hernandez discussed some of the negative aspects of Silicon Valley that individuals may encounter along their careers. In her opinion, a glaring negative to the computer science industry is that job security is a scarce luxury that almost no one is afforded.
Hernandez also discussed the positive aspects of the computer world. One in particular dealt with the absence of discrimination toward one’s race or gender.
“One-third of the employees at Netscape were women,” she said. “The new software industry is gender and color blind and it is all about what you can produce.”
“It is not just for the true blue white nerd anymore,” Hernandez said. “This is the new world of software, and this is where it will continue to go.”
Jonathan Vann can be reached at Jvann@temple.edu.