Tabbed Browsing Turns 7

Alternative browsers like Firefox and to a lesser extent Opera, Safari and NetCaptor exploded in popularity in 2004. Better security was a major focus, but almost universally, "tabbed browsing", the ability to open multiple web sites in the same browser window by placing each site on its own tab, was listed as a top reason to switch from Internet Explorer. I like what Walt Mossberg said in one of columns in The Wall Street Journal:

Tabbed browsing is the biggest fundamental improvement in the Web browser in years.

I agree 🙂

From reading various journalists, you’d think that tabbed browsing was a relatively new feature. Actually, tabbed browsing is over 7 years old – Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Safari and others can all trace their tabbed browsing DNA back to NetCaptor at some level. I started developing NetCaptor in the summer of 1997 and released the first public version on January 3rd, 1998.

Happy 7th birthday NetCaptor!


4 thoughts on “Tabbed Browsing Turns 7

  1. Congratulations, Adam! It took a lot of creativity to figure out tabs so early, and the current implementation is the best that I have found. Firefox supports nothing to compare to the persistent groups of tabs found in NetCaptor.

    Now if you would just get rid of that annoying, worse-than-useless little dialog box every time Netcaptor is launched! On those occasions when the little box gets hidden behind the main window, it’s a bear to get it to the front so you can click OK and unfreeze Netcaptor.

  2. I first experienced a sort of proto-tabbed browsing in November 1995. Global Network Navigator (aka GNN), which was one of AOL’s first Internet acquisitions, offered a browser in which every site you visited was a tab accross the bottom. I remember thinking it was very clever and wondered why others weren’t doing it. GNN was AOL’s experiment with an Internet-only service geared toward more advanced users. It lasted a year or two before they shut it down.

  3. As I’m sure you know, browsing originated years before NetCaptor. It is disingenuous to continue calling NetCaptor (on the “original tabbed browser”. AOL bought Booklink in late 1994, and Booklink’s Internetworks had tabs as we know them today. Though largely unheard of today, Booklink was well-known at the time, and has the only legitimate claim on the DNA of tabbed browsing.

    Google on: “tabbed browsing” booklink

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