Mozilla Firefox Turns 10

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Mozilla’s Firefox browser is the third most popular way to navigate the web, just behind Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Firefox is unique among the browser titans, because it's the only one that's completely open source -- meaning Mozilla makes all of the source code available to the public. This has led to the proliferation of add-ons, many of which are made by non-employees. They allow users to greatly customize their browser.

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In addition, since Firefox’s code is published, any programmer can "look under the hood" to see what's working -- an important feature at a time when Internet security concerns are increasingly prevalent.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the open source browser, we've compiled a timeline with fun facts and notable accomplishments.

10 Years of Mozilla's Firefox

March 31, 1998: Coders at Netscape start an open-source project. They call it Mozilla, a former codename for the Netscape Navigator browser which was extremely popular in the 1990s. Mozilla was derived from the words "mosaic" (another popular 1990s browser) and "killer."

Sept. 23, 2002: The release of “Phoenix 0.1” marks the earliest version of the browser that would eventually become known as Firefox.

July 15, 2003: The Mozilla Foundation is established. The foundation is a non-profit organization whose core belief is, “The Web is a shared public resource to be cared for, not a commodity to be sold.”

June 15, 2004: Mozilla launches the Add-ons Gallery, an official comprehensive list of all the extensions, themes and plug-ins users can employ to customize their browsers.

Nov. 9, 2004: Mozilla unveils Firefox 1.0, the first full version of the browser. Fans of the project organized a full-page advertisement in The New York Times to herald the release.

Aug. 12, 2006: Enthusiastic Firefox fans, mostly students from Oregon State, make a 220-foot wide crop circle reproduction of the Firefox logo in an oat field near Amity, Ore.

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Feb. 21, 2008: The total for downloads of Firefox surpasses 500 million.

June 17, 2008: Mozilla releases Firefox Version 3.0, which establishes a Guinness World Record for “Most Downloads of a Software Application in 24 Hours,” totaling more than 8 million. There was no previous record.

Feb. 8, 2011: The beta version of Firefox 4 includes a “Do Not Track” feature, furthering the company’s commitment to privacy awareness.

March 29, 2011: Firefox releases a mobile browser for Android devices, initially available in more than 10 languages.

April 2011: The company implements a “Rapid Release” schedule, making a new version of Firefox available every six weeks. By this schedule, there are always four versions of Firefox being worked on at a given time. Users can try the "Nightly" version, which has the latest updates that have not been fully vetted; the "Aurora" version, which is more stabilized; or the "Beta" version, the last step before an official release.

July 26, 2012: The download total for add-ons surpasses 3 billion. Firefox currently has over 17,000 user-created add-ons.

Today: More than 450 million people use Firefox. About 40% of the code was written by volunteers. The browser is extremely popular around the world; it is available in 75 languages and more than half of users employ non-English versions.

Images courtesy of Flickr, andrewhefter and John Antoni.

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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