Firefox has quite a history of its own, a very young but interesting history. Firefox began not as Firefox, but as Phoenix, which was made available to the public on September 23, 2002. The first build of the browser which was the 0.1 version was not available as an installer, but as an executable. You needed to click on the executable to start the browser. The Phoenix browser used a large amount of Mozilla source code and the initial release was codenamed “Pescadero”, Spanish for “angler”.
Feature-wise it was extremely primitive, but it still contained some useful features Mozilla Firefox such as a popup blocker, tabbed browsing and an integrated download manager. However, shortcut features such as writing the URL then pressing [Ctrl] + [Enter] to automatically fill in the "www." and “.com” parts of the URL were not available in version 0.1. Phoenix 0.2 was released a few days later on 10 October 2002 and had plenty of more features compared to the previous release.The major change in this version was the tool bar which had undergone a complete change. The side bar made its first appearance in this version.
Other enhancements were implemented including new options to the preferences section. Now users were able to disable Java and edit some tabbed-browsing options. Phoenix 0.2 also introduced the ability to add extensions and themes to the browser. Phoenix version 0.3 was the first release of Mozilla that had an integrated search engine by default in the toolbar. The Mozilla team at the time was concentrating on enhancing the browser and spent most of their time on doing that. Although this release had bug fixes, it was still buggy and unstable.
The next major change came with the release of the Firebird browser. Yes, Mozilla changed the name of the browser from Phoenix to Firebird. This was done to avoid trademark issues with a company called Phoenix Technologies, which makes a browser of its own. After months of brainstorming, the Mozilla team rested on a new name, Firebird. However, the name Firebird had to be changed again later because Firebird was the name of an open source development project that makes a relational database. The general look and feel of the browser was also changed to support the name change. The term “Preferences” turned into “Options”, and the Options window obtained some eye candy. If Firebird 0.6 crashed, the user was now able to submit a message to the developers about this error. The downside to this new browser was the increase in the file size which was an increase by about 6MB.
With all the other bug fixes and releases happening in a span of over a few months, the next change was the re-christening of the browser, again. As mentioned earlier, Firebird was the name of an open source development project that makes a relational database and to avoid the legal issues the Mozilla team settled for the name Firefox after some further brain-storming and research in trademark names. This was mainly because it was closely similar to its previous name, Firebird. With the new name came a new logo: the now famous image of the Flaming Red Fox wrapped around the Globe. Staying true to the logo, the browser spread like wildfire in the coming ays.Firefox 0.8 was the first release to feature a Windows installer. All the previous versions were zip files containing an executable. The theme of the browser remained the same, almost. However, improvements were made to the toolbar features. The default search engine was Google and you also had the option of installing (adding) newersearch engines. The installer was also unique since it gave users the option to install the browser with or without the developer tools.
Soon, Firefox PR 0.10 was released. This was the first build to let users use RSS feeds to read in their bookmarks. Other default search engines such as Google.com, Dictonary.com, Ebay.com, Amazon.com and Yahoo were also added to this version of the browser. Other improvements in this release were a lot of bug fixes and security patches.
Finally, version 1.0 codenamed Phoenix was released in November 9, 2004. It had support for English, French, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Italian and hordes of other languages. As soon was this was made available, downloads of this browser reached a peak and it was downloaded over 1 million times in one day! This speaks oodles about the quality of the browser and the acceptance level of Firefox among users worldwide.
Currently as we write, the latest version of Firefox is 1.0.4. The strongest point of this browser is that it is open source. You can make a million modifications to it, customise it and just keep adding… There are thousands of extensions, themes and add-ons available for Firefox and with each passing day, the number grows. However, this may also be a drawback, as sometimes too many extensions can cause problems as well.