What is a web browser?

Published Monday, 8th February 2021

Web browsers or internet browsers (commonly referred to simply as browsers) are programmes designed for accessing and displaying information on the World Wide Web.

Internet browsers are one of the most important pieces of software in existence. They are used by millions of people every day, and access billions of websites.

First released in the autumn of 1993, Mosaic is generally recognized as the first modern web browser, making it possible to browse the Internet as it existed then. The browser was originally developed by Spyglass Inc., a Mountain View startup founded by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. Although initially intended for Unix systems, Mosaic ran on most systems capable of displaying bitmap graphics.

While the term "web browser" refers to a software application that is used for displaying web pages, it is generally used to refer to the user agent that initiates the retrieval and rendering of information from an HTTP server. A user agent is either a software application or a piece of hardware capable of interpreting and executing instructions issued by web servers (or other types of servers).

The way a web browser displays a website depends on many factors: your computer's operating system, the device you use to access the web, the browser itself, and the website being shown.

A browser is not the same thing as a search engine. Search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, index content on the World Wide Web and display search results based on what they find.

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