A web browser is the software program you use to access the World Wide Web, the graphical portion of the Internet. The first browser, called NCSA Mosaic, was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in the early 1990s. The easy-to-use, point-and-click interface helped popularize the Web, although few could then imagine the explosive growth that would soon occur.
The Dynamic Duo
Although many different browsers are available, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are by far the most popular. (Many Mac users prefer the Safari browser.) The battle to dominate the market has led to continual improvements to the software. (By the way, both are based on NCSA Mosaic.)
You can download Internet Explorer and Firefox for free from each company's website. If you have one browser already, you can test out the other. Also note that there are slight differences between the Windows and Macintosh versions.
Outfitted with a browser, you can surf to your heart's content, but it's easy to get lost in this vast electronic network. That's where your browser really helps, as it comes loaded with all sorts of handy features. Fortunately, you can learn the basics in just a few minutes, then take the time to explore more advanced functions.
Since web browsers have more similarities than differences, we'll primarily cover those. For the most up-to-date information about each browser and a complete tutorial, check the online handbook under the Help menu or go to the websites of the respective software companies.Browser Anatomy
When you first launch your web browser, usually by double-clicking on the icon on your desktop, a predefined web page appears. This page is referred to as your home page or start page. With Firefox for instance, you may be taken to the Mozilla home page or to a page selected by your Internet service provider. But if you want, you can easily change your start page. This article walks you through the process.