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NCSA Mosaic

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Little did anyone realize back in 1993 that a software program created to simplify communication among scientists would turn the Internet upside down. But that's what happened.

In November 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois released NCSA Mosaic, a software tool that, for the first time, enabled people to easily browse the thousands of different types of documents proliferating on the Internet. Mosaic was designed for the World Wide Web -- the Internet protocol developed at CERN -- but it brought order to all of the Net's confusion of protocols, data formats, and information archives. It didn't take long for word to spread about this exciting new browsing tool.

Simplicity and versatility contributed to Mosaic's popularity. It seamlessly integrated text files, image files, data files, and even movie and audio clips. Within a year of Mosaic's release, traffic on the World Wide Web increased more than 1,000 percent. The number of people downloading the application from NCSA's server averaged 50,000 per month; now it exceeds 100,000 per month.That's how Mosaic got started.

How do I get on the Internet?

Many people talk about being connected to the Internet, but few know what that really means. A direct connection involves having a high-bandwidth telecommunications line run to your home or business. Leasing these lines is costly, however, even for large corporations. Instead, the majority of businesses and individuals establish Internet connections through Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Prodigy, America Online, and CompuServe. Smaller regional ISPs also exist and may be more economical, depending on your needs.

How do you find an ISP? Try your local telephone company. Other sources of information are your local library or community college. Someone there may have a listing of regional ISPs or know of a local FreeNet that serves as an ISP for the community. If none of these works, have a friend who is online send an email message to the following addresses requesting their lists: info-deli- [email protected] and [email protected]

If you work at a large company or university, chances are your organization has Internet access. A call to your system administrator will let you know.

Types of Internet access

There are three basic kinds of Internet access: dedicated access, PPP/SLIP, and shell accounts. Only the first two support Mosaic.

Dedicated Access

Dedicated access is the fastest form of Internet access. A separate communications line runs from your ISP to a router computer at your organization. Like a tree trunk branching into limbs, the router directs Internet traffic to local area networks (LANs) of computers within the organization. And vice versa. Your computer is most likely connected to one of these LANs.

Dial-up PPP/SLIP

Heading Tag Using a high-speed modem (14,400 or 28,000 bits per second recommended), you dial up a service provider over standard telephone lines. The PPP/SLIP establishes a connection that routes the Internet traffic to and from your machine. Mosaic will work with modems as slow as 9600 baud; however, its slow speed may prove discouraging.

Dial-up Shell Accounts

Heading Tag Though similar to PPP/SLIP, a dial-up shell account never actually connects your computer to the Internet. When you dial in to your ISP, you log on to the ISP's remote machine. The programs run on the remote machine and are emulated on your computer screen. Unfortunately, some older emulators do not support graphics applications and therefore cannot run Mosaic. If this occurs, ask your service provider to recommend another browser.



See Also