Andreessen, Marc

Andreessen, Marc
▪ 1997

      From recent college grad to cofounder of Netscape Communications Corp., computer programmer Marc Andreessen accomplished what many could only dream of. At age 25 he was a top officer of a software company that reported revenues totaling $55 million for the first quarter of 1996, and he graced the cover of Time magazine to illustrate a story on the "Golden Geeks" of the 1990s (in 1994 Time had named him one of the top 50 people under the age of 40). Just a few months earlier, he had been given the 1995 Computerworld Smithsonian Award for Leadership.

      Andreessen grew up in New Lisbon, Wis. While still in grammar school he taught himself BASIC, a programming language, so that he could write his own computer games; he later attempted to design a program that would do his math homework. Andreessen planned a career in electrical engineering. That changed, however, when he entered the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and landed a part-time job at the school's computer lab, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). There he and a handful of his peers created Mosaic, a user-friendly browser application that integrated graphics and point-and-click simplicity to make it easier for nontechnical people to navigate the World Wide Web (the graphic subsection of the Internet). It was a hit. NCSA made Mosaic available free of charge over the Internet, and more than two million copies were downloaded within a year.

      After graduating in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Andreessen headed to California's Silicon Valley to work for a small company that made security products for use in electronic commerce. Soon he was contacted by James Clark, the founder and former president of Silicon Graphics, Inc. Clark was searching for an exciting new venture, and he found it with Andreessen. With Clark's $4 million investment and Andreessen's genius, the dynamic duo founded Mosaic Communications Corp. (later rechristened Netscape Communications) in April 1994. Andreessen recruited the original masterminds behind Mosaic and set out to create the "monster" software, which they initially dubbed Mozilla (meaning Mosaic Killer). It was commercially launched as Netscape Navigator and, almost overnight, became the most popular browser used on the Web, taking over 75% of the market share by mid-1996.

      Netscape's main objective was to enable individuals and companies around the globe to exchange information. And, as vice president of technology, Andreessen earned the role of setting the company's technical path as it prepared to ride the "bandwidth tidal wave," which Andreessen predicted would transform the wireless communications industry.


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Universalium. 2010.

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