A Moment of Reflection on Firefox’s Birthday

8 years ago today, Mozilla released Firefox 1.0. I remember when this happened. I was 23 and working for a small technology publisher in San Francisco. Even now, I can feel the excitement I felt then at having a viable open source alternative to Internet Explorer. I was an early Firefox Affiliate and I installing it on every computer I could get access to, including all the ones at work.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think then that I’d be fortunate enough to make my living in open source, let alone working for Mozilla. Mozilla isn’t a perfect organization, and it’s been a stressful first year for me, but I’m still proud to call myself a Mozillian and look forward to being here for a long while. At least long enough so see us successfully launch FirefoxOS and hire some more women and queer people (especially in technical roles).

What about you? Where were you when Firefox 1.0 launched?

Oh, and If you’re curious about this history of the Mozilla Project, including key releases, check out this timeline.


  1. I was working for Salon.com and I was probably still recovering from the 2004 US election results on some level, and I do not remember that Firefox 1.0 launch. But I was a free software user at home, as I am now, and I’m so happy to see how far Firefox has come!

  2. Jeff Walden says:

    I remember half-punting college homework that night to eagerly listen to an Air Mozilla oggcast, with Asa (?) and Stuart talking about what was happening, and interviews with other people, interspersed with not-particularly-good Creative Commons interlude music. :-) At the time I was contributing writing Firefox end-user help documentation (it shipped in-product at the time) amidst classwork (I remember doing some very frantic writing/reviewing the last two weeks before the release), but I was starting to inch towards writing code at the time — first front-end, then toward the back-end stuff I do now.

    What’s perhaps craziest to think about to me is that back then, it was like fifteen people in a one-room office amongst the overall online community, and now it’s seven hundred-plus people in a gazillion offices amongst an online community that’s definitely much larger. I used to be able to keep up with #developers scrollback without having to tweak my IRC client’s lines-of-conversation-displayed setting; now, if I don’t bump it, I start not seeing scrollback before it’s discarded. Channel sizes are crazy big compared to then — there were few enough participants that things like “conference mode” (hide joins/parts and most stuff other than actual conversation) didn’t kick in. And now there are a whole bunch of area-specific channels — #content, #gfx, #jsapi, #jslang, #media, and so on — where before basically everyone lived in #developers, and you had one or two other channels for social discussion. I could keep up with ~every commit that happened each day, then; I couldn’t do it now even if I wanted to. Our scale is just amazingly bigger now. And back then, the web and web standards didn’t improve; now I can’t even keep up with every new proposal as it happens. Not to say the web works now, but it’s so much further toward working now than it was then. So much progress — makes me feel heady just thinking about it.