Microsoft almost bought Netscape in 1994, but failed

Remember 1994? The Internet and the World Wide Web was just beginning to break out of its university roots and start to be used by the general public. That was just 17 years ago; now accessing the Internet via some kind of web browser is as commonplace as turning on a TV. However, if a new report over at Computerworld.co.uk is correct, the Internet and the web browser industry could have taken a different path.

The website posted an interview with Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript and one of the people behind the development of the Netscape web browser, perhaps the single biggest and most important application in those early days of the World Wed Web. Eich claims that before he came to work at Netscape,  Microsoft " .... made an offer to acquire Netscape late 1994 ...." butMicrosoft's offer was not high enough for Netscape's leaders  "... so they were turned away."

Let that just sink in for a moment. Microsoft made an offer to buy Netscape before it really took off and almost became a threat to Microsoft. If Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had offered Netscape a bigger offer and the company accepted, there would have not been a browser war between the two companies.

Microsoft would have had total and complete domination for access to the Internet via the World Wide Web like it did with its Windows operating system on the PC. With virtually no competition, Microsoft could have used Netscape as the basis for its own web browser. It's also possible that there would have not been any anti-trust case filed against Microsoft in 1998 since such a case was dependent on the US Department of Justice's claim that Microsoft's bundling of its Internet Explorer web browser kept Netscape Navigator from being able to compete.

If this story is true, we bet that Gates and Ballmer have since thought, "We should have offered Netscape more money." But they didn't, and as a result the development of the Internet went down a much different road than it could have with Microsoft in full control of the wheel.

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