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A web browser is a software application which enables a user to display and interact with text, images, videos, music, games and other information typically located on a web page at a website on the World Wide Web or a local area network. Text and images on a web page can contain hyperlinks to other web pages at the same or different website. Web browsers allow a user to quickly and easily access information provided on many web pages at many web sites by traversing these links.
The history of the web browser dates back to late 1980s, when a variety of technologies laid the foundation for the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991. That browser brought together a variety of existing and new software and hardware technologies.
The introduction of the NCSA Mosaic web browser in 1993 – one of the first graphical web browsers – led to an explosion in web use. Marc Andreessen, the leader of the Mosaic team at NCSA, soon started his own company, named Netscape, and released the Mosaic-influenced Netscape Navigator in 1994, which quickly became the world's most popular browser, accounting for 90% of all web use at its peak.
Microsoft responded with its browser Internet Explorer in 1995 (also heavily influenced by Mosaic), initiating the industry's first browser war. By bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, Microsoft was able to leverage its dominance in the operating system market to take over the web browser market; Internet Explorer usage share peaked at over 95% by 2002.
Opera debuted in 1996; although it has never achieved widespread use, having less than 1% browser usage share as of February 2009, it has a substantial share of the fast-growing mobile phone web browser market, being preinstalled on over 40 million phones. It is also available on several other embedded systems, including Nintendo's Wii video game console.
Apple's Safari had its first beta release in January 2003; as of February 2009, it has a dominant share of Apple-based web browsing, accounting for just over 8% of the entire browser market.
The most recent major entrant to the browser market is Google's Chrome, first released in September 2008. As of February 2009, it has a 1.15% usage share.