Mosaic and the Birth of the Web


Twenty years ago, maybe on April 22 (there are conflicting dates, but definitely in 1993), NCSA’s Mosaic Web browser was released — and we’ve been swimming deeper into cyberspace ever since. Exactly one year after, in the spring of 1994, I came out with Mosaic Quick Tour. As far as I know, it’s the first book about the World Wide Web.

When Ventana called, they asked if I could write about the Web. I said “sure!” They asked If I could do the book in 30 days (they wanted to be the first). I said “sure!” (I desperately needed the money.) They gave me the gig. I didn’t bother to tell them that I’d never laid eyes on Mosaic and didn’t even know what HTML was. But I learned pretty damn quickly. I did the book (two, actually — Mac and Windows versions) in 40 days (with massive assistance from Sean Carton). I did nothing but sleep, eat, and sit in my exhausted task chair for those 40 days. The book became an instant bestseller in the space (and the Computer Book of the Month Club selection). It was my first book and the only one that’s ever made me substantial royalties. Sean and I went on to collaborate on a number of other projects, like the Internet Power Toolkit, a monstrous, booster seat of a book that was another nightmare to create, but unlike Quick Tour, made NO money.

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