The story of Mozilla, upon which Firefox has been built, extends all the way back to 1993, when the name was first established as a branding for the “mosaic killer,” Netscape Navigator. During the early 1900s, when the internet began to proliferate into the mainstream, the US Govt funded the development of a graphic interface called “Mosaic” in 1993. This interface triggered the internet phenomenon. As it was still in the initial development phases, it was not meant for masses and was trying to work on its flaws.

One of the many brilliant programmers under the “Mosaic” project, Marc Andreessen, quickly grasped the potential of the internet and co-founded a company called “Netscape” with Jim Clark. This company founded the “Netscape Browser” which took the world by a storm. In just a few days, the browser software was sold by the company on floppy disks, and a million of those copies were sold, making the employees of the company millionaires, thanks to stock markets and shares. However, this did not go well with Bill Gates, who was working to develop the Internet Explorer (IE) browser around the same time. Bill Gates wanted to crush Netscape and ensure that even though the Internet Explorer was being released after the Netscape Browser, it becomes the most used browser on the market. Once Internet Explorer was launched, the downfall of Netscape began, because of shrewd business tactics played by Microsoft wherein they not only provided the internet explorer browser as a default in every system, but also threatened to revoke all windows accesses to those systems that were using the Netscape browser. An anti-trust suit was filed against Bill Gates, who later ended up paying 750 million USD to Netscape for the damage done to it. However, in this entire process, Netscape lost a lot of its revenue, and turned from a king to a pauper in a matter of a few months. It also lost a lot of its very reliable workers, and was left completely helpless. This was when Netscape decided to open up their code for the Netscape Browser through the Mozilla Foundation in 1998.


This open source code then underwent a large number of changes, and was released as Phoenix/Mozilla in late 1998. This Mozilla browser suite kept undergoing changes as Firebird in 2003, and finally as Firefox in 2004. The name change from Phoenix to Firebird occurred mainly because of disputes with a BIOS manufacturer, Phoenix Technologies. Thus, the name was changed to Firebird, to indicate a mythical creature similar to the Phoenix, but again, the name met with mixed reactions because the database server already went by the name Firebird. When the name changed to Firefox in 2004, the Mozilla Foundation began to get a patent on the name, and even though the process was delayed by a few months, the trademark for the name was finally given to them.