Revisiting why hyperlinks are blue. For anyone interested in the history of hypertext, the web or precursors to it
Lou Montulli, a former engineer with Netscape, writes about the origins of the blink tag. It seems that it was a lament for the lack of features in text-based browsers.
Back in 1994 I was a founding engineer at Netscape, prior to that I had written the Lynx browser, which predated all of the other popular browsers at that time. Lynx had been and still is a text only browser and is commonly used in a console window on UNIX machines.
Sometime in late summer I took a break with some of the other engineers and went to a local bar on Castro street in Mountain View. At some point in the evening I mentioned that it was sad that Lynx was not going to be able to display many of the HTML extensions that we were proposing, I also pointed out that the only text style that Lynx could exploit given its environment was blinking text. We had a pretty good laugh at the thought of blinking text, and talked about blinking this and that and how absurd the whole thing would be.
Saturday morning rolled around and I headed into the office only to find what else but, blinking text. It was on the screen blinking in all its glory, and in the browser. How could this be, you might ask? It turns out that one of the engineers liked my idea so much that he left the bar sometime past midnight, returned to the office and implemented the blink tag overnight. He was still there in the morning and quite proud of it.
Why am I not surprised that the idea originated in a bar.
1×1.gif should have won a fucking Grammy. Or a Pulitzer. Or Most Improved, Third Grade Gym Class or something. It’s the most important achievement in computer science since the linked list. It’s not the future we deserved, but it’s the future we needed (until the box model fucked it all up).
All the things I’ve forgotten. Blink, deal with it.
In the years of IE 90% dominance there was nothing much to do but regard the browser as a “black box”, but now, with open source browsers having more than half of the usage share, it’s a good time to take a peek under the engine’s hood and see what’s inside a web browser. Well, what’s inside are millions of C++ lines…
I tend not to post anything that I haven’t consumed in its entirety, but exceptions can be made. As Justin pointed out, the article is a must-read for anyone interested in web development.