Firefox and Me: Part 1

Sunny Man’s post on the browser wars got me thinking back a few years to the days when Firefox was still Firebird and Internet Explorer 6 ruled the roost. 3 years ago, most people would have laughed if you said that Mozilla would become the dominant browser for the masses again. Firefox isn’t quite there yet, but it’s inevitably going to happen soon. The whole browser ecosystem has changed so much in the last 3 years.

This is my life story and how I’ve been using browsers.

Before Firebird…

I’ve probably been using the internet for around 6 or 7 years now. I didn’t get on the internet until after Netscape had died, and Internet Explorer was the biggest and best web browser at the time. I remember using Internet Explorer 5.5 for ages because the IE6 upgrade program refused to work.

After getting broadband, I did decide to check out a lot more cool programs and I downloaded Opera 6 at one point to get onto the ICQ network but the browser sucked and had the annoying adverts and the Mozilla Suite which sucked too. 

Discovering Firebird

I believe I discovered Firebird in October 2003, just a few days after the release of Firebird 0.7. I remember visiting the website several times before actually being bothered to download it. And at first I wasn’t a big fan of Firebird either. I couldn’t see what it did better than Internet Explorer, and Firebird didn’t work with tons of sites out there.

In those days, Firebird was released as a .zip file rather than an installer. So my copy of Firebird sat there in a folder on my desktop for quite a while.

Strangely enough, the website which got me to open Firebird again was Sourceforge. I had just started a project there and for some reason Internet Explorer 6 gave me a security warning which couldn’t be turned off every single page load. So I begun to use Firebird on the Sourceforge site and Internet Explorer 6 for the rest of the internet. 

Firefox: The Early Days

Firebird became Firefox in February 2004. I remember hating the name at first but since then, it’s grown on me. I was still using Internet Explorer 6 at the time Firefox 0.8 came out because there were still things which annoyed me about Firefox – for example you couldn’t right click an image and copy it to the clipboard.

A friend introduced me to extensions and I went crazy with them. I downloaded the extension to copy images to the clipboard, RSS Reader Panel which is now known as Sage, the unofficial Google Toolbar, pie menus, download sidebar and all kinds of weird and wonderful extensions. I loved RSS Reader Panel, it saved me a ton of time.

At the same time, I had become a member of the web standards movement and Gecko was getting a lot of praise for web standards support so I decided to give Firefox a real go. I loved the popup blocking and the extensions, but a lot of the WWW still didn’t work with Firefox. So User Agent Switcher and IE View joined my ensemble of extensions. 

And then there’s the Web Developer Toolbar which single-handedly caused me to test my websites in Firefox before testing them in Internet Explorer. I was doing a lot of website developing at the time, so this caused me to use Firefox a lot more.

It was these extensions which made Firefox so attractive to me and they were pretty important back then as Firefox still lacked a lot of the features you want from a modern web browser.

I decided to introduce Firefox to a few friends – one of them decided to switch back to AOL’s browser but most of them made the switch. 

But with Firefox 0.8, I finally made the leap and became a Firefox user.

Part 2 coming soon… 

6 thoughts on “Firefox and Me: Part 1

  1. Yikes, a mere 6-7yrs online… you make me feel old!

    I hit the web somewhere around IE2/3, NS2/3 sort of time.

    Oh, and one tip: don’t say `sites that don’t work in $browser’, since that merely propagates negative vibes through imprecision; try distinguishing between `invalid site that doesn’t render or function properly in $browser’ and `site relying on valid functionality missing through bug in $browser’. I think you’ll find most problems are caused by the former.

  2. Yeah similar here. I switched to Firefox somewhen around 0.7 as well, but sticked with it. It was so ultimately slow. And buggy of course probably because almost everyone used the buggy Tab… hell I even forgot its name. TabBrowserExtensions or something.
    I even experimented with my toolbar layout these days but now it hasn’t changed in years. While at first using an IE theme to get used to it I then switched to Mostly Crystal and I still use this theme today. I realized this when looking at old screenshots I uploaded at Deviantart. In two years, nothing important has changed. Firefox still looks the same, and even with 2.0 and those useless "go buttons" I used userChrome to go back to my old layout.
    That’s what I call love 😉


  3. I think I started using Firefox slightly before the 1.0 release after you recommended it to me, although I was a creature of habit back then and would keep going back to IE because it was harder to import IE favourites, history etc into firefox back then, until I decided to totally remove the links etc in the start menu and desktop to force me to use firefox instead as it was easier as I could see the benefits would be greater. Used firefox solidly since the 1.0 release.

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