As a student at the University of Illinois, Marc Andreessen helped write Mosaic, the first widely distributed software for browsing the nascent World Wide Web. Mosaic gave the Internet a point-and-click graphical face, unleashing it to become a transmogrifying force in global culture and commerce.
Recognizing this potential, Silicon Valley exec Jim Clark cofounded Netscape Communications in 1994 with the then-22-year-old Andreessen. The company's spectacular public offering in 1995 made Andreessen into a poster boy for Internet start-up riches. But Microsoft, recognizing the challenge to its desktop supremacy, struck back with its own free browser, Internet Explorer. Although (Microsoft's response to Netscape led directly to the epic antitrust case playing out in Washington, Netscape was struggling for a vision when the company agreed last winter to be acquired by America Online, a formerly proprietary service that had been ridiculed by techies such as Andreessen. MORE>>