March 31, 1998 was the official beginning for Mozilla (then Netscape Communication Corp) with first developer release of Netscape Communication 5.0. Over the next 10-years the source code ended up being completely re-written. Here’s the press release:
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (March 31, 1998) — Netscape Communications Corporation (NASDAQ:NSCP) today announced that the first developer release of its Communicator 5.0 source code is available for download from the mozilla.org Web site. Targeted at the developer community, this unprecedented release of the client source code promotes acceleration of the evolution of Communicator 5.0 development by allowing the company to harness the creative power of thousands of programmers on the Internet, incorporating their best enhancements into future versions of Netscape’s software. This strategy is designed to accelerate development and distribution of future high-quality versions of Netscape Communicator to business customers and individuals, further seeding the market for Netscape’s enterprise solutions and Netcenter business.
Mitchel Baker describes the Mozilla Project idea:
Ten years ago a radical idea took shape. The idea was that an open source community could create choice and innovation in key Internet technologies where large, commercial vendors could not. This idea took shape as the Mozilla project.
Mozilla was not the first group to pursue this idea. GNU/Linux and the BSD operating systems were already providing a very effective alternative at the server-side operating system level; the Apache web server was already proving that an open source solution could be effective even in areas where the commercial players were actively competing. Each of these gave strength to the idea that this new effort could be successful.
Here are some of Mozilla’s accomplishments over the past 10-years:
- Converted a closed, proprietary development process into a vibrant, transparent, open source project.
- Grown into a massive global community, quite possibly the largest open source project in the world
- Developed a set of long-term, vibrant projects — Firefox, Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Camino, Bugzilla, Calendar –most, and possibly all of which have millions of users
- Become the software provider of choice for over 170 million people
- Proved that open source development can product great end user products
- Brought the Internet to millions of people in their language
- Moved the overall state of browser software forward dramatically
- Become a technology platform others use to create products built on Mozilla technologies, and in some cases competitive with Mozilla products
- Developed a reputation that people trust and feel they have helped create
- Developed a sophisticated organization that can — for example — service, update and respond to 170 million users
- Built and operated giant open-source web applications — where the source code that runs the application IS open source and available to others;
- Articulated our mission in broad, non-technical term
- Encouraged others to try open, transparent and collaborative techniques in a broad range of activities
- Created public assets of enormous value