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Chicago, jQuery, and Web Revolution

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Last week I was in Chicago for the most recent jQuery Conference, part of my autumn tour. It was a fantastic opportunity to have some face-to-face conversations as well as to get to know different folks in the jQuery community. Most importantly, I feel the urge to recall the revolution of the web, in which the state Illinois played an extremely important role.

The talk I must deliver for jQuery Conference is on a 10,000-foot overview of JavaScript execution in a web browser (check the slide deck, expect the video in a few weeks. Update: watch the video). Since the browser is an essential topic in this case, I could not resist to interject a story, a short detour on the browser history. You might have read a different variant of this, when I wrote about the back-story of various names of popular browsers out there. In particular, pay attention to the exploratory theme (in bold) in the following diagram.

revo

The said revolution was started by Mosaic, well-known as the first popular web browser which dramatically boosted the popularity of world wide web. Mosaic was developed at NCSA, part of University of Illinois. Some Mosaic team members later went to create Netscape and develop Netscape Navigator. One of them is Marc Andreessen (@pmarca), a graduate of University of Illinois, who is known these days as a prominent investor at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) VC firm.

Mosaic was later born again in the form of Internet Explorer. Spyglass, an official licensee of NCSA Mosaic project, licensed their browser technology (unrelated to the original Mosaic code) to Microsoft and it became the genesis of a new browser contender to Netscape Navigator. The rise of Internet Explorer also led to the first Browser War.

During this time, Netscape was in trouble and the browser code was released as an open-source project Mozilla. After a few years, Firefox emerged and this time became the browser that challenged Internet Explorer. One of the co-creator of Firefox is Dave Hyatt, he was involved with Netscape and it is hardly a surprise that he also finished his graduate from University of Illinois. Later on, Dave Hyatt was one of the influential figures behind WebKit, the rendering engine that powers Safari.

Something that is not mentioned in the above browser diagram is of course JavaScript. Are you going to be surprised if I now mention that Brendan Eich (@BrendanEich), the father of JavaScript, finished his master also at the University of Illinois?

Beside being close to the seed of such a revolution, I did really enjoy my first trip to Chicago. It seems that Chicago easily makes it into the list of future travel I want to plan. Meanwhile, my next stop will be San Francisco for the upcoming HTML5 Developer Conference.

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