It had to happen sometime. For many, taking their first baby steps into a world of strangeness called The Internet, the browser that came bundled with your new computer was obviously the door through which you walked.
It was back in 1995, as the built-in browser for Windows 95, that Internet Explorer was born. It was the default browser in billions — yes, billions — of computers. By 2004, IE had cornered 95% of the market.
The browser was so pervasive that websites had to work when displayed on it. (Much grumbling by web designers. It was the only question they heard: “But does it work in Internet Explorer?”)
Code first deployed over 27 years ago may struggle with the lean, agile, web pages we’re exploring now. Facebook hadn’t been invented when Internet Explorer was born. It wasn’t designed to handle YouTube. You want to use your dial-up modem to access your listserv or check Friendster?
Internet Explorer was perfect.
The launch of faster browsers such as Chrome and Firefox gradually eroded its dominance. In 2016, snappy little newcomer Firefox edged ahead of IE and — yes, well, um — Edge in terms of worldwide popularity.
The fatal blow arrived with the ascendancy of smartphones. Apple’s pre-installed Safari browser on the iPhone and Google’s Chrome on Android phones shifted Internet access from our desks to the palms of our hands.
Of course Microsoft hasn’t moved out of the browser market altogether. You can still use Edge, if you’re Microsoft inclined. However, most of us won’t.
Internet Explorer was one of the foundation stones of the Internet, making the web accessible for the first time to many. Without it, the growth of our new information superhighways would have been slower and more uncertain.
Nevertheless, on 15 June, 2022, Internet Explorer died.
Someone even made it a little gravestone.
“Mainly good for downloading other browsers,” its headstone says. I’ll give it more credit than that. It was our training wheels as we learned to ride the bicycle.