Mozilla's 10th anniversary

I vividly remember what happened 10 years ago, on January 22nd, 1998[1]. Netscape announced that its browser source code was going to be available on the Net, calling it a bold move to harness creative power of thousands of Internet developers. It did certainly take some time to get there. It included, in no specific order, blood, tears, massive lay-offs, short nights, relentless dedication from volunteers and Netscape (then Mozilla) employees, skunk work, junk food (Denny's, anyone?), soda and long hours of coding so that the Web stays open.

10 years ago, I was spending all of my energy trying to explain to many people, ranging from the Netscape salespeople to the members of the European press what this actually meant. What "Open-Source" and "Free Software" meant. At the time, people focused on the price issue, as this was much easier to understand than what "opening the source code" meant. Like I discussed with John earlier today, 10 years later, things have not really changed. People mostly don't get it still.

10 years ago, Netscape did something that has changed the way people think about developing software. It had to: how a small company could compete against an 800-pound gorilla engaged in illegal tactics?

For years, people thought that Mozilla was doomed, and that nothing would ever come out of this effort. Even many people inside Netscape (then AOL) thought there was no chance that we could pull it off.

Fast-forward to 2008... Firefox has more than 150 million active users in the world. It is showing in many different ways that people care about having the Internet open. It's showing that Open Source (and Free Software) works and can produce easy-to-use products that people want to use. It's showing that thousands of volunteers around the world can produce a tool available in 44 languages, used to access the amazing "thing" that is the Web, ranging from Wikipedia to And believe me, it is nothing short of incredible to see in action such a diverse and highly motivated community doing what it takes to make the Mozilla project a success. I'm truly blessed to be working on Mozilla, working with so many talented people. 10 years after, I'm still as excited as the first day, so I have decided that I'll be blogging all year long about this event and the history of Mozilla. I encourage each of you, dear readers, if you have memories, to tag them with mozillaturns10, on your blog or on flickr (or any other memory-sharing tool).

"Bold move", said the Netscape press release. Indeed. But that's probably a too weak expression to describe the Mozilla adventure, but I'll stick with it until I find something better that fully encompasses what Mozilla is about.


[1] And not only because my son Robin turned 1 on that day. Happy birthday Robin!