Ten Years Ago Today: Industry Pioneers Recall the Impact of Netscape's Spectacular IPO

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Just ten years ago there was no Amazon, no eBay, and the founders of Google were still in high school. Then a little company called Netscape had its IPO on August 9, 1995 - and the Internet 'gold rush' was on.

It was the first 'dotcom' IPO. No one expected much, but there were signs.

Signs like the switchboard at Netscape's Mountain View offices lighting up at all hours of the day and night with frantic calls from the public asking about the offering.

When the closing bell of the stock exchange rang August 9, 2005, insiders on both Wall Street and in Silicon Valley sat back stunned. The Internet, long the province of scientists and computer geeks, had been transformed in the course of a day's trading into a major financial force to be reckoned with.

Netscape's product? A simple piece of software that made it easy to 'surf' the Internet.

Today, folks don't spend as much time 'just surfing' as they used to. They already know where they're going on: to read the news, to go shopping, to do their homework, to chat with friends. The Internet's become part of the fabric of everyday life.

But just ten years ago, the landscape was completely different.

For a little perspective on what the Internet was like before Netscape:

  • There was no eBay, no Google, no Amazon. Yahoo! was two guys in a dorm room.
  • The average modem connected to the Internet at just 28 kps - about 100 times slower than today's average high speed access accounts.
  • Shopping was hard because few companies had figured out how to take money online.
  • Web sites were so rare that one of the most popular destinations on the Internet was a site that announced new web sites, any web sites. In 1995, just having a web site was big news all by itself.

Recently, some remarkable video footage from the early days of the Internet's 'Big Boom' was uncovered in the attic of Internet pioneer Ken McCarthy. It shows Marc Andreessen, the twenty-three year old co-founder of Netscape, introducing his new invention to a group of San Francisco business just months after the company started and long before most investors knew a browser from a bonnet.

For more information about this footage: http://www.TheSystemSeminar.com/bigboom

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Ken Mccarthy
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