The Evolution of Web Browsers

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Modern Web Browsers: Evolution and History
Abdullahi Salihu Abubakar (Baban Sadiq); 08034592444


Web browsers are the gateway to the cyber space. You must own a browser on your computer in order to browse any page on the Internet. What then, you may ask, are web browsers? A web browser (or “browser”, for short) is any computer program or application that is responsible for launching a computer user onto the Internet or a simple area network like the Local Area Network (LAN) at home, office or within any geographical location where such a connection is established; whether wireless or direct connection. If you ever checked your mails on a computer, or read some news headlines from a newspaper website, then you must have used a browser in your life. Web browsers today are of course a component of a branded new system, especially the popular Microsoft Internet Explorer which comes packaged into the Windows operating system. In fact, “mini” browsers are also found in most of today’s mobile phones and other portable devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the like. Some browsers can be downloaded for free, like Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Google Chrome, while others are owned for a fee; directly or indirectly. An example is the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The work of a browser is encoding any page on the Internet that is embedded within Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) tags. Web pages are written, embedded and “coded” using the popular web design language called HTML, a simple web programming language the computer uses in order to display texts, videos, sounds and graphics/images. The moment you started a browser, it loads onto your system memory (RAM) and suddenly displays itself on the computer screen. As you type in the web site’s universal resource locator (URL) or address (e.g. “”), it communicates via your system ports, through the aid of a “protocol” named Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), down to the computer (i.e. the Web Server) hosting the pages you requested, wherever it is located in the world. It does this through what are called “requests”. The system at the other end collects such requests, analyse them and sends back “feedbacks”, which in this case should be the web pages being hosted or stored in it. As your system receives the information, the browser then “encodes” it and display the content the way it was encoded by the Web Site Designer: with texts (including colours and shapes), sounds, videos, images and their arrangements within the browser display area. This, in short, is how your browser sources the web pages you requested from the Internet.


Modern web browsers have the root of their history some twenty years ago, and since then, they continue to be one of the driving forces behind the success of the Internet as a technology. Before their appearance, web pages were accessed only through the use of technology such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and later on a gopher system. A “gopher” was a computer program, written for the purpose of surfing the net, which was then purely text-driven. The structure of a gopher was very simple: it displays the web site pages in totality, giving the surfer the opportunity to see the content of the entire site through “menus”. These menus serve the purpose of what is today known as “hypertext link”, “link” or “menu link”. You can access information through a particular subject by clicking a menu, which takes you down further. Considering the size of users then, one can say that gophers had served the right purpose. Because about eighty per cent of web surfers were either university lecturers or researchers from technology research centres within the US, Japan and other European countries. The content alone determines the users: most of which were research breakthroughs, reports and emails. Most of this information...
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